1. The comparisons with channel ORANGE are lazy and ultimately unapt outside of the (annoying) stylization of titles. But if we must compare them … if channel ORANGE is our generation’s What’s Going On, that is to say, an album that’s more concerned with uniting lost souls through love, than Wildheart is Let’s Get It On, an album that’s concerned with that love and not much else. I mean, he opens the album with a snippet of breaking news footage before his bedroom door shuts it out, because the only world that Miguel is interested in is the one he’s sharing with the woman he’s with at that moment. That being said, Wildheart has more distinct melodies, more interesting sonics, a more enveloping psychedelic vision and a more insatiable satyriasis than does Let’s Get It On.
2. On Frank Ocean, here’s Miguel: “To be completely honest—and no disrespect to anyone—I genuinely believe that I make better music, all the way around.”
Yeah, no. Though Wildheart is thankfully more concise than channel ORANGE, its decadence gets tiring after a while. Only “what’s normal anyway,” where Miguel contemplates life as an outlier, offers respite, and that one ain’t much outside the message. The highlights on the second half of the album: “Hollywood Dreams” has one of the more direct grooves on the album, and the sprinkles of synthesized arpeggios is a nice detail; “leaves” is plain and also plainly beautiful though I question him comparing his relationship status to what happened to Hiroshima; the handclap-driven and Lenny Kravitz-featuring “face the sun” is a climactic conclusion.
3. Bonus track “gfg” could have easily taken the place of one of the other tracks, methinks, and its the throbbing bass, pitch-shifted vocals and underlying menace all sound like Miguel was taking lessons from the Weeknd’s “Initiation.” Elsewhere, “destinado a morir” has some interesting synths, I guess.
4. But the first five songs are gold. Hearing Miguel standing atop his speeding motorcycle with his arms spread yelling “WE’RE GONNA DIE YOUNG” over the incessant bass stomp of “a beautiful exit” is exhilarating, and who cares about dying young when you’re about to get it on with a woman? “DEAL” has a massive chorus, with its melody chanted over a Spartan guitar that’s all very military-esque, though the lyrics are anything but. “the valley” has Miguel lusting over stretched-out synths and squelchy drums, interspersing the “…in the valley” mantra with his tunnel vision of body parts and sex commands (it’s the delivery and the over-the-top lyrics of the second verse where the Prince worship gets a bit out of hand). “NWA” has a sweaty groove of deep bass notes, electric guitar cadences and hard drums while Miguel’s almost-constant falsetto juxtaposes with Kurupt’s deeper voice.
5. And “Coffee” is excellent, and an easy contender for the song of the year, appearing here thankfully Wale-less (who provided the obligatory hip-hop verse in the single version) and fully-realized (as opposed to the half-assed thing on yesteryear’s EP). The vocal melody is stronger here than anywhere else, and the way he phrases the choruses so that there’s a rush of words (“Wordplay turns into gunplay / Gunplay turns into pillow-talk / Pillow-talk turns into sweet dreams / Sweet dreams turns into…”) before the sweet, held conclusion of “Coffee in the morning” is the album’s most indelible moment. Love the single note propulsion; love the way the song climaxes so subtly, ending with Miguel clenched-fist singing over the song’s main hook and building handclaps.
6. I swear, “Wordplay turns into gunplay” is one of the most memorable things I’ve heard all year.