Childish Gambino shines with new style

Following a two-year hiatus Gambino departs from his old sound to explore a kind of conceptual funk. Photo courtesy of Pitchfork.
Following a two-year hiatus Gambino departs from his old sound to explore a kind of conceptual funk. Photo courtesy of Pitchfork.

“Awaken, My Love!” presents the avid Childish Gambino fan with an album full of conceptual funk and unexpected modes of musical expression. To the unfamiliar listener, “Awaken, My Love!” is a funkadelic collection of groovy songs that make for good listening regardless of your exposure to previous Gambino tracks.

Prefaced by two singles, “Redbone” and “Me and Your Mama,” which were released in mid-November, “Awaken, My Love!” has amassed an incredible amount of attention in a short time. There are several reasons for this. For one, Gambino had not released an album for more than two years; his last album, Kauai, came out in October 2014. Perhaps the most significant reason for the popularity of “Awaken, My Love!” is how different it is from any previous work that Gambino has released.

Gambino, or Donald Glover’s, debut album Camp and Grammy-winning Because the Internet fall in the rap genre, while Kauai features songs that are reminiscent of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. “Awaken, My Love!” deviates completely from the soulful vibes of Kauai and the beats of Because the Internet.

Instead, Gambino’s new album is much more emblematic of a modern take on the funk craze of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Almost all of the songs on his 11-track, 49-minute album feature funkadelic bass lines, electric guitars with maxed out wah-wah pedals and laid back  rhythms. This artistic change of pace featured on “Awaken, My Love!”, although successful, may be disappointing for fans of Gambino’s previous records, especially after such a long wait for a new studio-produced album.

If you are someone looking for an album reminiscent of the rap-centric Because the Internet, Gambino’s new record isn’t that. In fact, there isn’t a single verse of rap on “Awaken, My Love!”. If you’re looking for the Frank Ocean-esque tone of Kauai, the same will also be true. Gambino does sing on a lot on“Awaken, My Love!”, but the album lacks the Auto-Tune and wispy sound of Kauai.

There is something refreshingly new about Gambino’s sound in “Awaken, My Love!”. Perhaps it is due to the wavy guitar solos or the bluesy sound featured in tracks like “Baby Boy” and “California,” but Gambino’s voice in this new record seems to contain more passion and sincerity than ever before. His new sound, although markedly different, is far from unsatisfactory; in fact, I personally prefer this album to some of his previous releases, such as Kauai and Camp. The new Gambino album, “Awaken, My Love!”, is bold in its new direction of musical style, but it is an overwhelming success.