AUGUST: Miguel – ‘Wildheart’

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Dear Brothers. Happy August. Sorry this is late. I think its my first ever late buy/post so please don’t hold it against me for too long. This month has been pretty painful for me choosing an album. I’ve not had enough head space to look into my own collection and/or new things to have something nailed on for the choice.

Months ago I posted ‘NWA’ by Miguel on the blog. I don’t recall it getting much of a response which is often a sign of how busy we are rather than how much we like or dislike something so I didn’t lose too much sleep about it. I was excited to see an album follow shortly and to see it gather positive reviews from all corners of the music media. I decided then I would choose it as my next album of the month … then I chickened out … then I chickened back in again. Then I decided Mbongwana Star was a better bet but found David had it (how much do you spend on music Brother David? You are a one man music industry!).

So here we are listening to (and hopefully) enjoying Wildheart. So what is it apart from the winner of the worst cover of any of this blogs previous albums of the month? There are numerous interviews with Miguel suggesting his inspiration behind this album. There are numerous interpretations of the album offering different suggestions as to how he got where he did with this one. The cover says ‘Prince’ so does the fact that many of these tracks are guitar driven. He is filed under ‘Alternative R&B’ on many sites. WTF is Alternative R&B anyway? I admit that i did come across him via a spotify Alternative R&B playlist so I can’t complain about the genre too much but it seems to be a tag that was created for Weeknd and then others were labelled accordingly?

For me, what ever the aim of this album was, the end result is pure pop. It has boatloads of Californian swagger. It has head-nodding tracks, sleaze and stadium-pop-rock anthems too. I think I chickened out from choosing it as the 3rd track ‘The Valley’ was a lot to take if you are new to this, not a huge R&B fan and not too keen on the naming of female body parts as the lyrical content to a bridge section of a pop song. The album is not shy of sexuality but I think this comes across as being ‘sex-positive’, if this is even a term? I don’t think this is offensive sexual referencing, overt but not offensive? For you to decided. Anyway, don’t switch off after Track 3 cause all the pop songs come after it.

I do suspect that Guy, you may need find this a tougher listen than David or Nolan but I may be totally wrong.

In its Californian-ness it feels like a summer album. In its love of a chorus it comes across as feel-good. I hope you enjoy it too.

11 comments

  1. whyohwhyohwhy

    On first listen this isn’t nearly as either ‘not me’ or difficult as I’d expected. In fact it’s almost just a pop album with rap/r’n’b flavours in it. I guess the flipside of finding it an approachable listen is that I’m left with an impression – a few days later – of not really remembering any of the tracks. I’ll give it another whirl this week and report back.

    (cover is still awful)

    • misterstory

      Agreed, for all the genre speculation possible …. it’s just a pop album! Glad you’re not totally offended, other than visually (what were they thinking?). I do know what you mean about initial memorability but I do feel it’s a grower. Plus the production is quite interesting and worth plugging headphones in for a few spins. One of Nolan’s things is the order of tracks and I think this album is really well sequenced.

      Please remember I only listen up to track ‘face the sun’ – the rest is ‘bonus’ stuff I don’t have, listen to or vouch for!

      • David Allison

        Caroline and I listened to this twice on a long drive down to the New Forest, and we both immediately loved it. There is an obvious debt to Prince (partic. the Parade and Controversy albums), and also a bit of a Frank Ocean thing going on, but actually we both thought of Lenny Kravitz too (ironic that he has a guest spot). Kravitz’s debut album is a well underrated thing IMHO.

        It’s clearly a sex album, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that (just ask Marvin Gaye), but it feels fresh and inventive, and it’s not trying to be clever and glitchy and overly postmodern R’n’B – it feels organic and ‘real’ if that’s the right word. Also, I don’t know that it feels like a pop album to me, it feels like a soul record.

        It’s funny, actually Caz and I have both been listening to a fair bit of late 90s/early 00s R’n’B tunes on holiday recently (partly cos I made a mix of 90s stuff for my BLOODY AWESOME 90s party that you missed!), and we keep being struck just by how well the stuff stands up. I’m talking Blackstreet, En Vogue, Lucy Pearl, TLC. Anyway – I feel like Miguel’s been listening to that stuff too because it’s got that languid, sexy feel but with some whopping hooks in there.

        Will post more as I get chance to listen a bit more, but this is a sure fire hit for this household!

      • misterstory

        Interesting comments Brother David. I listened last night with headphones on and did have a slightly different experience – it sounded much more of a soul album on that listen. Perhaps the soul is in the production and it comes across on headphones better?

        Also totally agree with the quality of late 90s soul and regularly listen to a number of the artists you mentioned. No Diggity – one of the best pop tracks ever? Don’t mess with my man – one of the best pop tracks ever etc etc

        Plus – boom!!! Lenny Kravitz debut is a brilliant album, I’ve considered it a few times for AOTM.

        Do you think there is also some Raphael Sadiq ‘instant vintage’ era to Wildheart? Particularly ‘what’s normal anyway’.

  2. nolankane706

    Sorry for getting to the party on this one a bit late brothers.

    It’s taken me a few listens to fully get into this, but I now love it.

    I too got the prince influence from the get go.

    I’ve heard Coffee on the radio a fair bit and liked it, as discussed, this album is a portal to 90’s R&B for me.

    The one thing that I will say, is I think I preffer his older work. For instance ‘All I Want Is You’ is an amazing track. I suppose, if anything this has made me re-descover some of his older tracks which isn’t a bad thing.

    Back to this album I’ve been moving around to which tracks I like the most. Currently it’s ‘Dammed’. ‘Waves’ is a great track as well, nice summer feel to it.

    Over all another solid album brothers.

  3. David Allison

    I haven’t stopped playing this. Surprised just how much I love it. You’re right about the Prince thing, how great that artists are taking inspiration from one of the best.

    One thing: the bonus tracks on the ‘deluxe’ version of the album are SHITE. Fucking hell, what is it with bonus tracks? When are they ever any good? If they weren’t good enough to be on the album, why stick them on there? All you’re doing is prolonging the album and watering down its impact. Such a cheap way to drum up a few more dollars.

  4. misterstory

    Glad that this has been positively received, I was unsure as to what to expect from your reactions.

    Glad you’re feeling it too Nolan. I’m not familiar with his older stuff at all. I will check out on your recommendation though.

    Yes Bro-D, ‘bonus’ tracks are utter shite. I can perhaps … maybe … put up with a live track … maybe … possibly … if there are some silent tracks in between it and the rest of the album? I quite like a separate CD of other stuff, there are some good examples Like LCD Sound System debut, CD2 was amazing – Deerhunter gave us ‘Weird Era Continued’ as a bonus album along with ‘Microcastle’ for a fan that sort of engagement is awesome …. but ‘deluxe’ version CDs with additional sub-standard tracks is upsetting, particularly when its was £5 cheaper than the proper version and I am being a tight-wad (but £16 per album is a bit much).

  5. whyohwhyohwhy

    A confession gents: I’ve not listened to this for weeks now. It’s not bad, it’s just not great. I can’t remember any of the tracks right now, and they were out of my head pretty quickly, sort of the opposite of Everything Everything. I guess I was the least of the lot to be expected to gel with this one, so no great surprise, but I seem to the outlier (again).

    Oh well.

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