Miguel - War & Leisure
War & Leisure
Musical evolution is always a tricky thing. On one hand you need to grow and change album to album but you don't want to go to far and alienate the fans you've already developed. Miguel however doesn't seem to care about that and pushes boundaries any chance He can while still holding true to what makes his music deeply R&B. The opening track of War & Leisure "Criminal" has this great distorted guitar and a wall of sound behind Miguel's sultry vocals. Shockingly to this blogger Rick Ross actually delivers a decent couple of bars showing how Miguel elevates anyone He works with. Miguel has all the swag of Prince without the musicianship but clearly the Purple One laid the groundwork for artists like Miguel. You can hear him channeling Prince on "Pineapple Skies" but it doesn't feel derivative it feels more like an obvious evolution. "Sky Walker" which features Travis Scott is two men at their absolute best. The song bops but still employs sounds that are highly modern. The delivery is also really slick, as it usually is with Miguel, seemingly sliding into the melody with little effort. What you really get from Miguel, this applies to Frank Ocean as well, is that his knowledge of music is deep and his ear razor sharp. That is why elements of old school R&B blend so well with modern production in Miguel's hands. It doesn't always work like on "Wolf" where He gets to bogged down in going on vocal runs and allowing the syrupy song to just sort of drizzle out. This song in particular feels too classic, too sparse and too on the nose R&B. "Harem" is similarly forgettable but throws you into arguably the best track on the album "Told You So".
The highly distorted guitar is featured on almost every track and has such a warm sense to it and really grounds the music for experimentation around it. Miguel's writing is also very smart with songs like "Told You So" having multiple layers of messages. He sings acapella covers on his instagram of some of today's slickest tracks garnering him tons of love. Everything He does just seems cool, sort of like Anderson .paak. It's an attitude that is savvy, smooth and one that people just love because of how honest it feels. This entire record feels like a deep dive into Miguel's consciousness and things aren't always as normal as they appear. "Caramelo Curo" with Kali Uchis is somewhat in Spanish but doesn't do the thing where an artists totally changes their sound when they try to do a Latin song. There are times where this album feels more frantic than Miguel's other records and it takes a song like "Come Through and Chill" to slow things down and take a breath. People will quickly classify this record as R&B but it is so much more as the genres bend and break. War & Leisure is Miguel's best album yet.
8.8 out of 10