Miguel: ‘nwa.hollywooddreams.coffee’ EP Review

Courtesy of Miguel via SoundCloud
Courtesy of Miguel via SoundCloud

It’s been over two years since Miguel released his Grammy-nominated sophomore effort, Kaleidoscope Dream, but it looks like his third record might just be around the corner. The R&B star has recently been hinting about the new album with a few Instagram posts of himself in the studio, along with some pretty exciting British producers: Jai and Anup Paul, as well as Naughty Boy. But today, the “Adorn” singer has surprise-released a brand new three-track EP, which as yet remains untitled, but going by the title on his SoundCloud page, it looks like it’s called nwa.hollywooddreams.coffee.

Opening track “NWA,” which features L.A. rapper Kurupt, is a smooth yet moody affair. With its poignant and minimal percussive inflections, it’s those thumping, heavy drums coupled with a bed of foreboding guitar lines, which carry the track forwards. Miguel’s seductive voice is a beautiful accompaniment to juxtapose the darker atmospherics in the production to give the single a lighter tone. His brilliant falsetto caresses the slow-burning soundscape with an air of effortlessness as the song flows from verse to chorus, and Kurupt’s slick verse adds yet another dimension, another layer.

While “NWA” sees a more experimental approach, sitting snugly in the middle is “Hollywood Dreams,” a mellow, more traditional R&B number with hints of soul-rock. Once again, we hear those gritty electric guitars blaring in the background as Miguel’s golden tones take centre stage. “We can fly higher than spaceships baby” he intones, addressing his lover, promising his eternal love and support for her. The lyrics paint an inspiring image of chasing your dreams, with the one you love standing behind you, waiting to catch you.

Closing track “Coffee” is perhaps the catchiest and most straightforward of the three with its simplistic arrangement. This time around, it’s a repeating line of synths and light electronics, which serve as the backbone of the instrumentation for the easygoing slow jam. However, by the time you’re engrossed in the music, the song reaches its ever-so-sudden (and evidently purposeful) ending. While it does ignite a sense of intrigue as to what comes next, some may find this incredibly off-putting and dissatisfying.

In all three songs, it’s Miguel’s voice that really stands out. Whether it’s the fluttery yet crisp falsetto in “NWA” or the rich lower intonations in “Hollywood Dreams,” each and every note is held and delivered to perfection. At just under ten minutes long, this small body of work is not only well executed, but sparks that primal instinct and inner feeling of wanting more. And so, nwa.hollywooddreams.coffee, is the perfect tease.