Album of the Week: Childish Gambino, '3.15.20'

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Childish Gambino, '3.15.20'
Childish Gambino, '3.15.20' (RCA)
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Sean McPherson - Album of the Week: Childish Gambino, '3.15.20'
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Back with his first full-length project since 2016's Awaken My Love, Donald Glover has released a sprawling record with a much more varied palette than his last effort. Awaken, My Love stayed largely within the sonic landscape of a mid 70s Funkadelic record. On 3.15.20 Donald Glover is much more willing to take sonic risks, offering ballads supported by minimal acoustic guitar work right next to massive booming drum patterns. 3.15.20 benefits from these twists and turns and it makes a much better canvas for Donald to present his lyrics.

Glover seems comfortable to go any direction he wants on 3.15.20. On "39.28" (aka Why Go To The Party) Glover lets a handful of de-tuned pianos accompany a layered choir of his own voice and the results are majestic. On "19.10" a driving uptempo synth groove joins a thumping bassline to deliver the strongest tune out of the collection, with the jarring opening chorus lyric, "to be beautiful is to be hunted".

In 2016 I was dismissive of Donald Glover's move into the funk universe of Awaken, My Love. To my ears he sounded like a student of funk who hadn't gone deep enough to find his own way. I have to admit that on this collection, Glover has absolutely found his way, by using every ounce of his influences and points of departure to create a record worthy of praise and exploration.

Listen all week for tracks from 3.15.20, the new album from Childish Gambino.

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