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Miguel: War & Leisure review – brilliantly imaginative pop

(RCA)

Having dropped acid on to his R&B sugar cube for his previous album, Wildheart, giving it a richly psychedelic flavour, Miguel continues his trip to create some of the most imaginative pop music around. The production is exceptional, with distorted guitars and ambient noise offset by whip-crack drum programming; moments of pure body-high pleasure, like Travis Scott’s Auto-Tuned arrival on Skywalker, the Latin strut of Caramelo Duro or the Prince-level funk of Told You So, are surrounded by murky idiosyncrasies.

The tropical lope of Banana Clip is so brilliantly realised it makes Miguel’s nudge-wink metaphors about shooting firearms seem like the height of sophistication, even romance. And though he sometimes gives into funky ad-libbing instead of building solid vocal melodies, his voice, particularly when drowsily tossing out raps or soaring in its upper mid-range, is a beautiful instrument that always ties the groove together.

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