Release Date: 07/11/18
Hot off the heels of Donald Glover’s musical moniker Childish Gambino’s first Billboard #1 single “This is America”, Glover seemingly squanders an opportunity while everyone’s paying attention. This is not these tracks won’t sell plenty of units, but a more discerning listener is likely to come off this experience saying “um… okay”.
The fact is that Glover has not approached anywhere near Drake-level invincibility. The average listener is not going to endlessly listen to anything he puts out… yet. That’s not to say there’s not potential abound. Gambino has had several high-profile and frankly excellent releases, but this is an odd choice to follow-up such a stunningly high-concept and vital audiovisual pièce de résistance, putting it lightly. More importantly though, it’s just not very good or essential listening.
“Summertime Magic” and “Feels Like Summer” stylistically most closely align with Gambino’s far superior 2014 release Kauai EP. You can tell it’s Gambino in that mode, and you can tell longtime producer Ludwig Göransson produced it. They use a similar instrumental palette as that release as well. That’s about where the similarities end though.
A couple issues with these tracks: these tracks don’t sound too “summer-y”… again, Kauai is the better bet; the interesting vocal styles (and variety) found on Awaken, My Love! are absent here; the music is a bit disjointed… “Summertime Magic” goes from breezy summertime vibes to a more dance-inspired beat, all made the worse for having unimpressive vocal melodies and harmonies and a disappointingly generic chorus. Let us also not neglect to mention the lyrics are unoriginal and un-substantive… disappointing for a lyricist of Gambino’s caliber.
To “Summertime Magic”‘s credit, it is far superior to “Feels Like Summer”, which sounds even more like Kauai reject, and is perhaps the weakest production the duo has created thus far. The sound quality/mix is quite poor and the vocal filter is a bad production choice. Again, the melodies here leave this listener entirely nonplussed.
I consider myself quite a big Childish Gambino fan. This was a disappointing surprise release. One that’d be better left shelved. There are literally hundreds of better “summer” tracks out in the world and this adds nothing valuable to that relatively niche canon.