CD Review | R&B

Miguel, ‘Kaleidoscope Dream’

After an inconsistent 2010 debut, the Southern California born R&B singer’s pop talent comes into focus on his second effort. These songs are propelled by guitar with electronic flourishes coloring the mix as the singer yearns, cajoles, and insinuates. Miguel, who also co-produces, needs to trust his own vocals more, as some tracks are simply overproduced. A good hook (“I’m going to do you like drugs”) on “Do You” gets washed away by effects, and a gratuitous gimmick (sampling “Time of the Season”) on “Don’t Look Back” fails to serve to the song. He’s at his best when he slips into his expressive falsetto, but Miguel frequently comes off too remote for a true soul singer. It sounds like he loves ya, but at arm’s length. Terrific pop instincts are on display, though, on “How Many Drinks?” and the funky, melodic “Where’s the Fun in Forever.” He still nods to Prince (“Candles in the Sun,”) but errs with a minimalist (primitive!) come-on, “[Expletive] Is Mine,” which sounds like an outtake. (Out Tuesday)

Ken Capobianco

ESSENTIAL “Where’s the Fun in Forever”