“Ignore the planned conventions of society/ The muted world, doesn’t dream in colours/ No fear, no shame, wildhearts can’t be broken/ You’re here for a reason, you know.”
Identity lies at the centre of ‘Wildheart’ – the latest offering of the R&B anomaly, Miguel Pimental. Charting the immaculately coiffed crooner’s development from awkward adolescence to self-acceptance, ‘Wildheart’ sees Miguel proudly flying his misfit flag.
Ever since his big break in 2012 with Adorn, Miguel has been an oddball in the world of R&B. Known for his seamless blending together of genres, the LA-born singer has developed a style so unique it has lead critics to coin an entire sub-genre just for him (alt-R&B). Featuring a diverse range of genres spanning across EDM, Grace Jones’ style 80s funk, rock, and bedroom balladry worthy of Marvin Gaye himself, Miguel’s musical eclecticism once again comes to the fore in ‘Wildheart’.
Miguel’s conflicting desires to both blend in and to stand out from a running theme throughout ‘Wildheart’ with the sexual bravado of songs like The Valley and NWA tempered by unexpected bursts of vulnerability. In the stripped-back What’s Normal Anyway he bewails the lonely life of the misfit over layers of ethereal synths, “Be in a crowd and not feel alone, I look around and not feel alone/ I never feel like I belong/ I wanna feel like I belong, somewhere”.
The album is at its most entertaining when it drops all the seriousness. This is particularly true of Miguel’s more risqué numbers. Infamous for his blush-inducingly indecent lyrics, Miguel’s eroticism culminates with The Valley – a slow and sticky EDM ode to the San Fernando Valley (home to LA’s “adult entertainment” industry). Even with headphones on, you can’t listen to this album in public without feeling guilty.
The 80s tinged disco number, DEAL, offers another moment of fun in an otherwise overly earnest record. Mocking the pretensions of the assorted wannabes and try-hards in a sleazy LA nightclub, he belts: “Want money? Got clout/ Need bitches, need bitches.”
The highlight of the album is undoubtedly the sublime morning-after ballad Coffee (Fucking). Relentlessly romantic to the point where it actually surpasses cheesiness, Coffee (Fucking) is five minutes of glorious power-pop perfection.
‘Wildheart’ at times suffers from the occasional moment of eye-rolling mushiness so typical of many major American acts today. The album shines when Miguel sticks to the sultry love songs that he’s so good at doing. A sophisticated lyricist and one of the best male singers in music today, Miguel is a class act.