California native Miguel released last year his much-anticipated, third full-length album Wildheart. While many critics are sending rave reviews Miguel’s way, I am in fact on the fence about this album. There are many great track on Wildheart, but there are also a few rotten eggs that tamper with the album’s quality.
Wildheart begins with a track titled “A Beautiful Exit,” which is quite ironic for an album’s opener. “A Beautiful Exit” departs from Miguel’s traditional R&B roots, as the track is mainly driven by a powerful electric guitar. Miguel’s smooth voice glides effortlessly over the relaxed melodies in this song and echoes vibrantly throughout the track. Furthermore, I really enjoy the inspirational lyrics in this song that include lines such as “Don’t ever sell yourself short, sell your sad things / Accept the new, don’t mingle on the past / Believe yourself, trust your intuition / You’re here for a reason, you know” and “Ignore the planned conventions of society / The muted world, doesn’t dream in colors.”
The album’s second track, “DEAL,” is an incredibly groovy track. As soon as the song begins, the listener can clearly tell that it is heavily influenced by a mixture between R&B, pop, and electronic dance music. The song’s lyrics focus on money and making deals and include the phrases “You could be holdin’ the future in the palm of your hands / So when you’re ready, come and get me, I’m on Capitol Hill / Before I show you the money, let me spot you the bill.” “DEAL” is an awesome dance track, perfect for the beginning of this record.
Without a doubt, “The Valley” is the most shocking song on Wildheart. It is an overtly sexual track that features numerous amounts of expletives and inappropriate language. Miguel was simply too direct and straight-to-the-point with this track, and I felt very uncomfortable throughout most of the song. Needless to say, I am not a fan of this track whatsoever and truly believe that the album could have done without it.
Wildheart picks itself back up again with an awesome track named “Coffee.” “Coffee” is an extremely romantic track that features clever lyrics such as “I wish I could paint our love / These moments and vibrant hues” and “Pillow talk turns into sweet dreams / Sweet dreams turns into coffee in the morning.” Miguel also returns to his R&B origins with this song, in which his smooth voice transports the listener to another place and time. Furthermore, his riffs and runs throughout this track are notable and quite impressive as well.
The next track on the album is the abysmal and disappointing “NWA.” The lyrics are poor and unoriginal in every way. Similar to “The Valley,” most of the lyrics in “NWA” are centered around sex, and the few that are not talk about drugs and having a “gangsta lean.” I’m not quite sure why Miguel continues to release such superficial and degrading songs when he has the talent and ability to write extremely meaningful ones. The only decent part of this song is the last few seconds, in which Miguel can be heard singing beautiful ascending harmonies in Spanish.
The sixth track on Wildheart is another funky track called “Waves.” While “Waves” does have a sexual component to it, Miguel’s references to sex are not grotesque and tasteless. Miguel also compares his sexual references to the beach and the ocean, which I find quite interesting. Overall, this song is simply a fun party track that I could easily see myself dancing to.
“What’s Normal Anyway” is one of the deepest and most honest tracks on Wildheart. In it, Miguel sings about struggling with identity and fitting in with a certain group of people. For example, some of the lyrics in this song include “Too immoral for the Christians, but too moral for the cut-throat / Too far out for the in crowd, what’s normal anyway?” and “Too opinionated for the pacifist, too out of touch to be in style / Too broke for the rich kids, I don’t know what normal is.” Many people can relate to the lyrics of this song, and that is one of the reasons that I love it so much.
The eighth track on the album, “Hollywood Dreams,” is an extremely catchy tune with a great melody. In this track, Miguel sings about his “Hollywood dream,” which is in fact a girl he compares to the city of Hollywood. The lyrics in this song include phrases such as “And we could be better than heroes baby, alright / We could fly higher than spaceships baby, all night / Said could you ever find the magic man / He can make it all happen, alright / Lost hollywood dreams.” I really like the instrumentation of this song as well, as it includes many different instruments, such as an electric guitar, synthesized sounds, and a steady drum beat.
Surprisingly, “…goingtohell” is one of my favorite tracks on Wildheart. It has an extremely fun R&B vibe to it that I can see myself dancing to at a concert. While the lyrics are extremely simple, they fit the song perfectly and do an excellent job at expressing Miguel’s message. Some of the lyrics in this song include “Going to hell, I know, I know / I don’t care, I’m in love / I’m going to hell with you” and “If we should die, I hope we die together / If not, at least I’ll know just where we’ll be.” Many people can relate to the feelings of forever and true love that lie behind the lyrics, which is why this is such a great song.
As I predicted simply by looking at the title, “FLESH” is yet another sexual track on this album. However, it is not as blatant and direct as “The Valley,” thus making it the better track. In fact, Miguel’s falsetto is actually quite incredible in this song and gives the track an angelic sound. The track finishes with Miguel hitting an incredibly high note that is probably his most impressive vocal moment on the whole album.
The next track on the album, “Leaves,” has an awesome beach rock vibe to it. This mellow track has minimal instrumentation in order to highlight Miguel’s vocal ability, which truly shines through. It also features a tambourine in some parts, which only adds to the beach vibe even more. As one would expect, the song has beach-themed lyrics, as Miguel sings “Heart caught in a rift, Cold pacific waters / Keep on pulling me under. drowning in my sorrows” and ” Sweet California, sour California / Sweet California, bitter California.”
“Face the Sun” is the perfect way to close Wildheart and tie all the loose ends together. The lyrics sum up everything Miguel has said in all of the previous tracks on this album, and the instrumentation is upbeat and lively, similar to that which you would find at the end of a movie. Miguel also showcases his falsetto yet again at the end of this track, and it sounds just as beautiful as ever before.
While some critics argue that Miguel has strayed too far off of the R&B path with Wildheart, I believe that he has achieved an equal and optimal balance between R&B and pop with this album. Some of the songs’ lyrics do not sit well with me, but other than that, I do not have much criticism for Miguel’s third studio album and believe that all fans of Miguel will thoroughly enjoy it.