Time (feat. Ariana Grande)
12.38 (feat. 21 Savage, Ink & Kadhja Bonet)
There's never been any effective way to prepare for a Childish Gambino project from Donald Glover; over a decade-long discography, they've oscillated between quirky raps, electro-pop, and strands of funk and R&B. This remains true with his new release, 3.15.20, which he also has released as a single-track opus, which may explain the decision to have most of the individual tracks here titled as timestamps. That mischievous, mercurial nature carries over to the music itself—he explores the darker hues of the outré, playing with genre as much he does disjointed sound effects—atmospheric noise, glitches, distortion, uncanny Auto-Tune. The soulful "24.19" and the optimistic closer "53.49" tread worn but welcome territory, while the foreboding futurism of "Time" and the sensory overload of "32.22" don't land like songs so much as cinematic collages brimming with ideas. Unsurprisingly, the one familiar track, "Feels Like Summer" (titled here as "42.26"), which was officially released in July 2018, is also the album's most accessible. 3.15.20 is a logical progression from his experimental inclinations of the past that latches onto some of his most eccentric impulses and thrusts them into overdrive. He basks in the spaces between restraint and rebellion, genius and madness, forcing listeners to find the freedom in chaos. The axiom "expect the unexpected" doesn't quite capture what Gambino has put together here—perhaps, this time, it's better not to expect anything at all.