Donald Glover has released a new Childish Gambino album 3.15.20. This album had an interesting pathway to release. He premiered it on loop last Sunday on his website, but it was taken down a few hours later without an official release. There were rumors he would do it again yesterday, but instead we got the official album on all streaming services.
The first thing you will notice about the album is that it retains the same continuity we heard on his website. Each song flows into the next like a mix compilation where the songs are mixed together. Sometimes the songs flow effortlessly, but sometimes it can feel a little forced.
Childish Gambino holds the album together, but there are a few unlisted features as well. Ariana Grande appears on the funky “Time,” Ludwig Göransson on four tracks “19.10,” “32.22,” 42.26,” and “47.48,” Khadja Bonet is on “12.38,” Glover’s son Legend is on “47.48” (it is super cute) and 21 Savage features on “12.38.” The song titles are the time stamps of where they appear on the album in minutes and seconds.
The album opener is soft and smooth with distant, heavily reverbed vocals and soft pads underneath. That then quickly switches on “Algorhythm” that tackles our addiction to algorithm-driven tech features and apps.
The album combines a variety of sounds and emotions, often back to back. The official song titles don’t give anything away, but he blends together cheery and smooth hip-hop with cosmic funk, soul, experimental electronica and even operatic influences.
There is the frenetic, robotic and urgent “32.22” that then switches up on the glorious, hopeful and fun “35.31” before “39.28” -- an operatic, almost acapella track about the comical nature of going to parties. Also one must ask, is he running or is he fucking at the end of “24.19?”
There is one song that people should recognize “42.26,” which is “Feels Like Summer” from his 2018 EP Summer Pack. The album ends on the funky and soaring “53.49” for one final salvo of good times
Gambino’s early work felt like an artist stretching his creative juices and learning about the music he wanted to do within the context of an actor also coming into the mainstream. He really found his groove on 2016’s year-defining Awaken My Love that showed the right way to bring back 70’s funk, soul and disco on one record. Now four years on, 3.15.20 is exploring even further as Glover becomes an even more powerful music and cultural force, releasing a project without a grand marketing campaign and offering another album of the year contender. Get the album here.