Because The Internet Glassnote/Universal)
On his latest record, Childish Gambino’s influences are showing.
There’s a Drake-like hook on 3005 Telegraph Ave. couldn’t be more Channel Orange-esque, right down to the ambient background noise and phone alerts and there are definite House Of Balloons moments.
Donald Glover sounds more like himself – peppered with some Kanye snarl – on The Worst Guys, a twinkly duet with Chance the Rapper, whose hippie-trippy production belies the bleak vulnerability of its lyrics. He’s also excellent on Sweatpants, demonstrating some of the flash of his earlier mixtapes.
R&B/hip-hop fusion tracks like Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night) are among the best, and futuristic jazzy splashes à la Thundercat or Flying Lotus are everywhere. The former steps in to produce Shadows, a very Thundercat song on which Glover’s flow is totally hypnotic.
Overall the effort is sadly, starkly pretty – like winter. He should be applauded for being painfully open about his current emotional state. But also like winter, the album drags on without much momentum. There are plenty of springtime buds under the frost. It’s just hard to find them.
Top track: Shadows