Miguel, “Wildheart”

Carnality, musical ambition and flickers of conscience have swirled through Miguel’s songs since his 2008 “Mischief” EP. “Kaleidoscope Dream,” his second album and commercial breakthrough in 2012, put romance and desire in the foreground for R&B hits such as “Adorn,” which hinted at Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and won a Grammy for best R&B song. Yet like Gaye, Miguel was never just a come-on artist, and popularity has emboldened him. On “Wildheart,” his third album, Miguel follows his clashing impulses further: toward love and death, raunch and exaltation, doubt and confidence, salvation and damnation, cynicism and hope. He also defies the robotic sound of current R&B, cranking up electric guitars and exposing his voice, taking chances while building exquisite productions. “Wildheart” deserves a place alongside the latest albums by D’Angelo and Kendrick Lamar; it’s rooted and daring, delving into the personal as it reaches for broad statements. It also invites comparisons to Prince, not only for Miguel’s ingenious, multifarious rock and soul hybrids but also for his determination to address dualities and contradictions.

JON PARELES, New York Times