R&B has a close relationship with the idea of love. For years it has always been the genre of inward searching, whether it be on a soulful, bluesy front or a poppier, smoother one. Miguel explores the dichotomy of love in War & Leisure, looking back on moments in his life that formed his idea of love.
Much of War & Leisure's sound follows the subject of the song. The distorted, bassy anthem 'City Of Angels' is a great example. The gritty bass chugs above the smoothness of Miguel's soulful melodies and the various synths as he sings "As the city of angels fell / I was busy letting you down," recalling a moment where he wasn't there for someone as a relationship fell apart. Other times, like in 'Pineapple Skies,' the cheerful sound goes hand in hand with the hopeful, celebratory lyrics Miguel sings.
The soundscape of War & Leisure helps it feel as if every ounce of it is built of experiences. The Spanish twang of 'Caramelo Duro' adds a bit of exotic fun to the mix, while opening track 'Criminal' adds dark sensuality to it (with Rick Ross adding some grit, as well). The dark, sensual moments really come through strong on songs like 'Wolf,' where the edgier textures help build a sexually cinematic tone. Funky beats in 'Told You So' return to the fun aspects of love and relationships, where closing track 'Now' has a big, final buildup that releases all of the emotions Miguel expresses prior. Not every moment is perfect, however; Travis Scott's rhetoric in 'Sky Walker' feels like it misses its mark, and the repetitive drone of 'Come Through and Chill with J. Cole and Saleem Remi ends up sounding dull (though perhaps that's another commentary on the nature of love).
Miguel explores the dichotomy of love in War & Leisure, every part of the record working to explain an experience. You can tell it's album built of years of good times and bad times, contained into one overarching idea of what love is. It's not easy, yet it comes with its sweet memories.
Favorite Tracks: Wolf, Criminal, Caramelo Duro
Least Favorite Track: Come Through and Chill
Rating: 77 / 100
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