The newest album by an artist who is ever-changing his style was released earlier this month. And it was certainly out there, even for Childish Gambino.
First, the album cover is absolutely blank. Just a white square. This is different for him, as most of Gambino’s album covers are rich, dark colors with some sort of tribal or naturalistic art on them. This album title is also unlike his others, with only a date written. That is just the album at first glance, without even listening.
Moving on to the songs, they are all marked by their time stamp in the album, much like a symphony might mark itself by its movements. I think this was a bold statement to make, as many of the songs do not quite flow into each other as one might expect in a symphonic piece. Two songs are marked by words: “Algorhythm”, and “Time”, the second and third songs, respectively. These did not stand out to me as being particularly different than the other pieces, so I am unsure of the meaning of that. Other than those two, the pieces are each titled by their song-ending time slot, through the whole album which ends with “53.49”.
I cannot say I really disliked almost any of the songs, but the biggest turn-off for me was when the songs transitioned into their endings, which were jarring and not always musical. I kept getting into the groove of each piece and then as the piece ended deciding I did not like it as the final 30 seconds or so were at odds with the rest of the song. Most of the songs did not contain full verses or choruses, or many words at all, for that matter. Most of the words included were just small phrases repeated in different chords. However, the songs were all very musical, unique and interesting, which is something that Childish Gambino excels at. While I did have some difficulty finding meaning in all of the songs, I certainly could enjoy the vibe of each one and its overall mood.
One thing I did particularly like about this album is its overall mood. I could see myself listening to this in several situations. It is definitely chill enough for just hanging out and talking over the album, in a group situation. But the songs were definitely interesting enough to keep my attention enough that I could see myself listening to it by myself in the car as well.
My favorites on the album had to be 19.10, 42.26, and 47.48. Time and 12.38 are the songs that have been the most popular overall in the album and are currently his number 4 and 5 songs on Spotify. If you are a fan of Childish Gambino, I would definitely give this album a listen. It has some of his classic aggressive rapping, along with some more relaxed tunes, and it is all certainly as engaging as his music always is, surprising me with each song.