The multitalented comedian, actor, rapper, and recently adopted funkadelic star Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) has finally graced anxiously awaiting fans with his new album “Awaken, My Love!”.
With this new record and genre identity, Glover proves once again that he is not afraid of tackling a new and challenging art, as many were even skeptical after his rap breakthrough on his first release titled Camp, which was quickly followed up by the highly acclaimed Because the Internet record.
While Gambino’s ambitions soar above and beyond what anyone could have imagined on this album (mostly due to the complete absence of rap), the tracks seem to fall flat due to a lack of vision that was so prevalent on his previous release. Aside from Me and Your Mama and Redbone, the record’s two hit singles that released only a few weeks ago, the rest of the songs seem almost misleading to the style that the previews initially lead on.
The song Zombies is probably the perfect example of when this album begins to feel translucent because even the lyrics featured on here are within the subpar range. Take the opening verse for example:
“All I see is zombies
Walking all around us
You can hear them coming
(They come to take your life)
You can hear them breathing
Breathing down your spine”
Sure, zombies are a popular metaphor used throughout media and in poetry, but the simple and bland rhetoric paired with a vocal delivery that tries just a little too hard to be weird or “artsy” actually comes across as quite adolescent, or at least undeveloped from a career artist that has made so much better, like his verses on Zealots of Stockholm or Telegraph Ave.
This mistake would be excusable too if it were not for the fact that he does the same thing again in California, but on a much grander scale. The vocal delivery in this song is so bad, it is comparable to singing through a paper towel tube with a half-closed throat. That being said, this song does attract positive attention regardless of the odd choice of voice filtration, and that is because the track offers a peppy reggae melody within the first five seconds to distract from the horrendous singing.
The main problem that this album faces is that it cannot decide what audience it is performing to. Gambino gave his fans a taste of what was to come through the single Me and Your Mama, a progressive piece that builds upon itself through layers of harmony until it explodes in Glover’s fiery roar that truly set the bar for everyone’s hype prior to this release. From that standpoint, many were expecting to hear a more melodic funk album that everyone could get into.
In reality, Gambino created something much more experimental, but not in a good way. Decisions were made to keep this record sounding weird, unfinished, and chaotic and that is ultimately what it is. There are far too many songs that fade out instead of having a direct ending, which comes across as slightly lazy when there is not a sufficient enough reason or motive to end a song in this way.
Other tracks in the latter half of the album end abruptly and at inopportune times, which also seems like an intentional decision that backfired upon public reception. The point is, this album has all of the creativity but absolutely no direction. It’s as if Glover woke up one morning and decided he needed to release a funk record as fast as possible. The new sound and genre for his music was a welcome surprise, but unfortunately “Awaken, My Love” is too ambitious for its own good. My honest opinion of this album is a 5.5/10