Review: Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka

Love & Hate by Michael KiwanukaIt’s taken Michael Kiwanuka four years to release his second record, and judging from the output, Love & Hate is both sprawling (average song length: five minutes, with a bunch tipping past seven) and ambitious. Recent events have made the album – or at least the idea of it – more relevant than ever, but for the most part the British soulster goes inward, with songs such as “Cold Little Heart” and “Falling” delicately, forcefully wondering aloud about his own issues. Love & Hate has the potential to be great – and it does have its moments – but it suffers from feeling a bit scattershot, a bit confused as to how it will go about doing its plans. With producers such as Danger Mouse in tow, the album takes swerves from his typical soul-funk to Nina Simone-esque anthems (in “Black Man in a White World”) and even some bluesy takes (in closing track “The Final Frame”). While it succeeds in making the album more than just yet another soul revival record, it feels the pieces could have been massaged more, could have been moved a bit more closer together. The result, instead, is something that you can’t help but feel has fallen short. [NB]3/5

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