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Katherine St Asaph: You will remember coffee in the morning — coffee as an act, in multiple iterations: served in white mugs, always; drank down in silence by fog-gray skylines. In all probability you will remember the coffee more vividly than the men who dispense it. You’ll drink it black and luxuriate, half-awake, in what you recognize as a palpably adult scene, the start of what you imagine must be a life lived in sotto voce ambience: no nonsense, no fooling around. Later you will learn that every coffee is interchangeable, and so must be their providers; you’ll realize that silence in the morning is a bad sign, that instant coffee, to men, is the pickup equivalent of Cher in Clueless lightly toasting a cookie-dough roll, and sold at every unevocative drugstore. If you really liked him you’d take each other to breakfast, and if you’d really won you’d fuck off and get a morning-after bagel ‘n’ sleaze. Miguel, at his best, makes music that sounds as if none of this was dispelled. His track meanders through colors of incense smoke, his voice sounds at once overcome and suave; his lyric walks a fine line between aspirational come-ons (“we talk crass humor and high fashion / peach color, the moon glistens”) and details so goofy they’ve got to be real — rock-paper-scissors, here, becomes Truth or Dare. (Between the both of them, you just know Miguel is the kind of guy who stops you mid-makeout to boop the freckles on your face.) The spell, as it always is, is a lie. The fact that you can find such precise analogues in Miguel’s back catalogue to everything that happens here, and that even after this long gone Miguel’s still just gussying up his old material, does dispel the spell briefly, even more so when Wale predictably comes in and ruins everything. The scone line has been well-savaged, as has the needless explication of “fucking in the morning,” like suddenly overhearing the conversation with his bros about the night, but I posit that “emulating 50 Shades over Jodeci” is worse than both. (First: how?) There are fair odds that the sensuality of “Coffee” will age as poorly as trip-hop or ’70s ads did. All these are the truth. But appreciating Miguel means shutting up and enjoying the damn lie for once.
Maxwell Cavaseno: Overwhelming proof that demonstrating you listen to M83 does not make a song.
Alfred Soto: “Coffee” depends on breathless expectations (“Pillow talk turns into sweet dreams/Sweet dreams turn into coffee in the morning”) and a churning electronic base that’s like a water bed rumbling under a couple in heat. But why “Coffee” works? The “turns into” verse mirrors what happens when after a few drinks the guy become steadily sexier. He could have also titled it “How Many Drinks.”
Josh Winters: With his voice striking the perfect balance of smooth velvet and rough asphalt, Miguel floats weightlessly over the smoldering bass like a ’48 Ford Convertible soaring high in the sky. He whisks you away into his decadent dreamworld that sounds as simple and luxurious as writhing under your comforter in the early hours of the morning. A pick-me-up like this makes a strong argument for completely ditching caffeine.
Thomas Inskeep: For years people kept comparing D’Angelo to Prince, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that it’s Miguel who deserves that comparison. “Coffee” is a plush, synth-soaked ’80s throwback soul jam that could only have been made now, and it’s Miguel’s best single yet.
Jer Fairall: If the tension here between the spiritual and the carnal sounds so fresh, consider how long it has been since either R&B, where the collision between the two impulses was foundational for the music, or pop, which once saw its titans (Madonna, Michael, Prince) regularly engage with both to an audience of the entire world, has addressed this conflict — one playing out in politics, education, everywhere, it seems, but in pop music. “Coffee” doesn’t revive this tension, but rather addresses it to find a path beyond it, a place where “old souls [have] found a new religion” (and where the only people dumb and/or gutless enough to think that said religion needs a name put to it are whoever thought the track needed a Wale-featuring version subtitled “Fucking”). Reveling in “the thrill of no shame” and a previously undiscovered level of comfort (the way that Miguel sighs “like this,” almost inaudibly, after “I’ve never felt comfortable” may be my favourite moment on the track, though I expect to have found a new favourite with the next listen), Miguel’s vision isn’t post-spiritual, or postmodern or anything like that — it’s utopian, a way forward. It’s also unbelievably gorgeous, a swirl of spacey atmospherics and Miguel’s warm blanket of a vocal luxuriating, most aptly, in its own guilt-free pleasure.
Edward Okulicz: Miguel’s voice and the airy, opulent production both make for a feeling like being in a bubble bath. That first minute is near-heavenly. After five minutes you can feel the water getting cold though.
Will Adams: It can be easy to submit to the cycle of easy love. When past hookups are just a text and a few blocks away, the intense rush of the night leading to the hollow morning becomes routine, as mundane as brushing your teeth. Thank God for Miguel, who’s reminded me what it could feel like to wake up and feel that same passion. Free from the mixed drinks and swirling, confusing darkness, the sunlight would show us as we are, and the thrill — the sense of belonging — would remain.
Crystal Leww: Miguel is the boy who makes the straight-laced girl fall hard very quickly, the artist whom the investment banker doesn’t want to bring home to her parents but can’t seem to leave either. “I never felt comfortable like this,” he croons, he beckons, and she feels it, too, like there’s a hidden part of herself that only comes out tangled up in loud arguments about Hong Kong cinema or quietly sitting in a kitchen watching him make eggs. Coffee in the morning doesn’t have to be intimate, but so often I have peered over a huge mug and felt something that made me terrified and comforted all at once. The song is corny, but isn’t corniness a step away from earnestness?
Ramzi Awn: You can’t really argue with Miguel. Drawing from a thousand different influences and none at all, “Coffee” thumps with the beat of a new genre of music. Miguel crafts yet another effortless hook built for breezes on the beach and boys in a Jeep. Is it the 4th of July yet?