“Awaken, My Love” — Childish Gambino — W.A.C.#3

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“Awaken, My Love”

My thoughts

After a string of hip hop albums, “Awaken, My Love” came as a real change of pace with its R&B sound and broad influences.

The album opens with a slow bass heavy sound in Me and Your Mama, staccato vocals fluctuate in and out along with the smoother more mid tone vocals and a generally relaxed sound. It’s just a chill mood for two minutes, then the track changes pace completely. I much heavier guitar and bass riff with shrieking vocals and an almost 60’s sounding gospel backing, and that chord sequence… is it… Money by Pink Floyd? Maybe I just hear a slight similarity. Then as quickly as it started, around 2 minutes later, we smooth the same chord sequence back into the chill mood from the start… Interest piqued…Right, album… what have you got for me?

Well one of the biggest observations comes from the fact that the album seems to really be paying homage to riffs, sounds and artists from the past. Boogieman, starts in a pretty 70’s sounding way and even layers its vocals that way. I like this track, there’s a really effective use of reduction, that is, change the mood by removing some instruments, that falling harmony in the chorus. I like it!

Personally, I think the best track of the album is Stand Tall, it is designed to resemble the first track with some very nice solid vocals and writing. It’s a really nice track, good lyrics and it really takes the chance to build and build to a nice, nice finale!

My only issue on the album is some of the lyrics, you can break them into three categories. Solid, a little silly and unsubtle; take Zombies:

All I see is zombies, walking all around us
You can hear them coming (to take your mind)
You can hear them breathing
breathing down your spine
All I see is zombies, hear the screaming out
They can smell your money, and they want your soul.


We’re eating you for profit
There is no way to stop it.

It’s a bit like if Hamlet delivered “To be or not to be” followed by cupping his hand to his mouth and declaring “that means I might want to die” to the audience. Maybe that’s taste.

The album is full of good moments, I like California for its bouncy off centre sound and Redbone is a really solid track too, just overly well put together. The album is full of winning moments and really a generally good experience. For me, it’s not quite the full package but it’s also the sort of album you could have on regularly as a feature in so many settings. It’s a winner generally with a few flaws, which personally, I am prepared to settle in with. It’s a winning sound, I hope I hear more of it.

Is this album for you?

Yeah! It’s easy to listen to, good for all groups. Perhaps it’s not for the really heavy critical ear or an actively listening skeptic but the vast majority of people will find this album really good to settle in with.

Scores

  • Writing: 7/10
  • Performance: 8/10
  • Style: 8.5/10
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