Miguel’s most recent record, “War & Leisure,” starts with strange sparse, rippling, liquid-sounding guitar chords. From there things get big, with contrasting patches of openness and claustrophobic layers of sound.
“I need a lunatic just like me,” Miguel sings. Miguel took a little leisure time — six months or so — after having been super busy writing, recording and touring.
The big single “Sky Walker” has a lot going for it: yawning subsonic bass undercurrents, stardust twinkling keyboard splashes (“splish”), a psychedelic trapped-in-amber outro, and a positive vibe.
“Pineapple Skies” seems to owe a bit to the stratospheric singing of Marvin Gaye. Miguel makes hooky soul-pop with plenty of baby-making energy, and his use of unusual pinched percussion sounds (“Told You So”) and rhythmic shouts makes the texture exciting on its own. The production on the latest record (aided in places by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek) is fairly abstract, with sprinkled layers of backing vocals, denatured guitar feedback and dub-like gaps carved out of the music. It’s one part Beach Boys and one part Prince.
Miguel has said he’s trying to make music that’s realistic about how the world is today. He wants to be present, joyous and optimistic. Even artists like Miguel, who make a point of saying their music isn’t political, find themselves making songs about subjects like the “CEO of the free world” who builds walls to keep people out, like on “Now.”
Miguel plays College Street Music Hall, 238 College St., New Haven, on Friday, March 16, at 8 p.m. $43.50 to $54.50. collegestreetmusichall.com.