Miguel Jontel Pimentel’s third album features a song called What’s Normal Anyway, which may just sum this enigmatic man up.
Pimentel does have evidence to back up his claim of extreme uniqueness. His career to date has had highs, with his previous albums spawning million selling singles in the US, but one does get the sense that the music industry doesn’t really know what to do with him. His 2010 debut album marketed him as a suave, radio-friendly ladies man, which didn’t quite match his often quirkiness. 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream, meanwhile, had this deep and dramatic aesthetic of someone like The Weeknd.
So, listening to Wildheart, you wonder if Pimentel himself knows what he wants to be, as this album appears to offer two personas. One is the hyper sexual lover-man depicted with a naked (presumably unconscious) woman in the album artwork, who appears in songs such as NWA: “She did it ’til she OD’ed.” Pimentel is good at playing the lady-killer. The songs, NWA and The Valley are very strong, and the former is attractively embellished with a driving guitar strum and winding synths. That being said, during these more sexy songs there are some perhaps off putting ways of phrasing things: “I’m your pope,” he sings at one point in The Valley, which brings a strange figure to mind at the wrong time. Further in this song, it’s not what he says, as how he says it. “Lips, tits, clit,” he chants, which is less than charming as it sounds somewhat like Steve from IT checking an equipment list and ticking them off.
These songs are nice to listen to, but it’s his other persona as the sort of stoner and misty observer of LA life, that is most intriguing. His lyrics are concurrently empathetic and ironic, bending clichés of drug dealers and amorality on the scene.
Other highlights of the album are modern twists on mid-80s US pop: Coffee and Waves, which sound like they could be the heightened soundtrack to a 80s romcom. Face the Sun, features Lenny Kravitz on its close, adding a feedback-ridden solo to an already frantic mass of vocals, treble-laden guitar and pounding drums, which is intense and powerful. Miguel always knows how to use his falsetto for emotional impact, rather than to show off his skills in pointless runs, and this song is a clear example of that.
Wildheart is not like other hybrid experimental R&B. It’s more intoxicating and eccentric than the other blends of shoegazing indie mixed with contemporary R&B. It is weirder, and that is its charm. The juxtaposition of the ladies man and stoner seems to have been a real winner here. Wildheart creates a sonically trademark musical style for Miguel, unlike any other.
‘Wildheart’ is out now on RCA Records. The full track-listing is as follows…