3.15.20 by Childish Gambino
This faceless, nameless, surprise drop from Donald Glover valiantly fuses digital electronics into the worlds of soul and funk to varying degrees of success. The continuation of the holistic universal values presented on "Awaken, My Love" is again a breath of fresh air but doesn't form all that harmonious of a marriage with the more experimental ideas here. When Bino gets it right he gets it RIGHT but too often the fusion is uncomfortable and grooveless.
The two tracks that naturally stick out, given they have actual titles and kick the album off, are two low points. "Algorhythm" and "Time" are prime examples of the blend not playing out. With a lot of overdetailing from vocal effects to production additives both songs sound overcrowded, clunky, and miss the mark. Unfortunately these miscalculations which digitize the soul right out of Gambino's performances pop up later on as well. The most egregious offender being "35.22", the one truly horrendous take on the album.
However there's great stretches on here as well. "12.38" through "24.19" carries the album with laidback better measured instrumentation that allows our sensual frontman to thrive. While I often criticize Childish for lacking the pipes to really bust his ideas through the ceiling he proved me wrong in this section. "Feels Like Summer" pops up as well fitting in nicely and I still admire its nostalgic summertime breeze. When he wasn't busy stuffing off the wall ideas on top of each other the tracks are realistically among the best of his career.
This one's definitley a trial and error experience with hits and duds aplenty. Refreshing updates on traditional funk one minute and a dilapidated mess of aimless electronics the next. Overall I'm just a little lost with it, unsure of the vision and not quite able to picture it in my mind. Clearer direction from a cosmetic standpoint would have gone a long way but it's always been Gambino's prerogative to be suggestive rather than direct. Hardest album for me to rate all year and very subject to change.