A frustrating and sometimes unfocussed return...

After blessing us with ‘Awaken, My Love’ Donald Glover has returned with new project ‘3.15.20’, his first full length album in almost four years.

Following a Grammy win, his subsequent Emmy win, and guest spot alongside Beyonce in The Lion King, this is easily one of the year’s most anticipated albums.

First debuting on March 15th through his official website, the album was eerily removed after a mere 12 hours. A week later, the album is given an official title that echoes the date of that initial release. With cover art that utilised timings rather than track titles, it gave the impression that the music hadn’t even fully loaded.

Perhaps this is fitting, with some wondering if it could be interpreted that the album was merely a throwaway project. Let’s expand.

Intro track ‘0.00’ consists merely of an altered electronic voice intermittently singing “we are” for two minutes and 59 seconds. It’s actually reminiscent of start-up sounds of a games console minus the vocals. It’s not the greatest introduction for a long-awaited album but due to his track record, Childish Gambino receives the benefit of the doubt.

The second track ‘Algorhythm’ perks the ears up and its production reminds you of a younger ‘because the internet’ Childish fused with the beloved ‘Awaken, My Love’ Gambino. However, on a personal level, this was the last song within the project that evoked some sort excitement. The rest of the project’s production seems like an accumulation of random noises (notably a minute of apparent sex noises on ‘24.19’) and alongside ill-fitting features.

‘Time’ utilises an uncredited Ariana Grande, although her voice is somewhat unrecognisable, layered with a robotic effect which transforms her usually powerful and soothing tone into something irritating. ‘12.38’ also featured an uncredited appearance, this time from 21 Savage. Feeling incredibly out of place, this verse’s subject matter doesn’t even relate to the rest of the song and seems like 21 features just for the sake of it.

‘42.26’ - unmasked as the previously released ‘Feels Like Summer’ - and ‘47.48’ (which features his son Legend Glover) are the only other enjoyable tracks on the project. The other songs seem to fade and ultimately becomes background noise with no proper substance compared to Donald Glover’s other projects.

Lacking the strong narrative thrust so apparent on his past albums, the project is incredibly disappointing. From what it looks like, it seems like there was a reason he said he was quitting music…

5/10

Words: Debbie Ijaduola

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