How does Miguel do it? How does he consistently top himself album after album? The R&B crooner’s latest album, War & Leisure, is his most intriguing and most excellent effort yet. Pulling influences from funk and soul, this album is a mixture of James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Prince, and Miguel.
War & Leisure is carnal, political, personal, and otherworldly all at the same time. Miguel has matured so much as a songwriter; with his bluntness on “Now” and his psychedelia on “Pineapple Skies,” Miguel showcases his versatility and vulnerability throughout the album. With six guest artists featured on the album, Miguel still ensures that he is the center of the album. War & Leisure is a snapshot of the mind of an artist who finally feels free and is willing to fight to the death to keep his freedom. The lustful energy of “Criminal,” “Banana Clip,” and “Caramelo Duro,” ooze confidence, maturity, and self-awareness. Unlike his debut album, Miguel doesn’t take himself that seriously on War & Leisure, this allows him to more accessible and better than ever.
“Told You So” and “Now” are the most traditional political cuts on the album, but they don’t feel preachy or condescending. Set against bouncy production that entrances the mind, both tracks feel lightweight even though their subject matter is anything but. More than anything, War & Leisure is an album of escapism. Miguel proves that we can acknowledge the injustices of our reality while still delving into the carnal heat of our respective fantasies.
Beyond the production and instrumentation, is Miguel’s voice. Miguel’s voice is so malleable that he can make the listener feel every emotion at once or nothing at all. He delivers the lyrics in a slightly off-kilter way that makes every track unique, and undeniably Miguel. War & Leisure is an opus that looks inward to move forward, and it does it with grace, wisdom, and touch of sexiness.