In 2012, Miguel released three auspicious Art Dealer Chic EPs, leading up to his masterful psych-R&B sophomore album, the same year’s Kaleidoscope Dream. In 2013, he worked to parlay that into something bigger, performing on Saturday Night Live in between collaborating with Janelle Monáe, Mariah Carey and Kendrick Lamar (OK, there was the occasional unfortunate mishap). In 2014, though, the Los Angeles native born Miguel Pimentel has been a bit harder to pin down.
He’s ending the year strong, though, with a new three-song EP, shared online with no advance notice. “Wordplay turns into gunplay / And gunplay turns into pillow talk / And pillow talk turns into sweet dreams / And sweet dreams turn into coffee in the morning,” Miguel croons on the third track, the electro-soul swooner “coffee.” The idea that “gunplay turns into pillowtalk” is apropos of the swaggering opener, with a vaguely sinister clatter and cold-eyed Kurupt guest verse that favorably brings to mind Justin Timberlake joining forces with Clipse a dozen years ago on “Like I Love You.” The middle track, “hollywooddreams,” is more of a rock power ballad, exploring the idea of the Hollywood sign as the singer’s “salvation”: “Still waiting for my big break.”
The songs follow a 2014 output that has mainly consisted of tantalizing Girls soundtrack entry “Simplethings,” Santana collaboration “Indy,” an Elton John cover with Wale and a Lorde-Chemical Brothers team-up from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. Miguel has already had a fascinating ascent, but here’s hoping that bigger break is still to come.