There’s never been a time when Childish Gambino hasn’t surprised me, and when his new album ’03.15.20’ dropped out of nowhere, I was floored. This is not a typical album. Each track presents a whole new side of Childish Gambino that listeners may not necessarily be familiar with. It’s almost as if you’ve been transported right into his brain and can see everything he knows and loves, whether they work together or not.
‘0.00’ is an amalgamation of all the great things I love about electronic music, mixed with a feeling of displacement. It’s amazing and the perfect opener for an album that rides smoothly in one direction – making you feel comfortable and like you know what to expect next – but then suddenly veers off the road it’s travelling on and takes you somewhere completely new.
The soft, airy synths on ‘0.00’ don’t prepare you for the heavy beat, sharp samples and rough vocals on ‘Algorhythm’. ‘Time’ feels like a bright reprieve from the darker atmosphere of the earlier tracks, with strong harmonies, warm synths and jangling guitar samples. Then, suddenly, ’12.38’ swoops in with a minimalist structure and sassy vocals that fully knocked me off my feet. ’19.10’ feels like a summer party, ’24.19’ is a blend of jazz, pop and low-key electronic pop. ’32.22’ has a bouncing beat and whooshing synths reminiscent of an acid trip you might be on the wrong side of, and ’35.31’ feels more like a Nickelodeon movie than anything else – bright, colourful and happy.
I should probably also mention that ‘Feels Like Summer’, a single released in 2018, is also featured on ’03.15.20’, but I didn’t realise it until those first few bars started to play. ’42.26’ is also ‘Feels Like Summer’ and it definitely caught me off guard!
Every song on ’03.15.20’ pulls you in a completely different direction and catches you by surprise. Honestly, it’s the most refreshing collection of tracks because you never know where it’s going to take you and it may just be Childish Gambino’s most ingenious album yet.