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January: 18 albums you need to hear this month

That's the month sorted then

  • Mixmag Staff
  • 6 January 2017

Album of the month

Childish Gambino 'Awaken, My Love!' (Glassnote Records)

Donald Glover’s got serious game, right? Comedian, Hollywood actor (The Martian, soon-to-be Spider Man: Homecoming and Star Wars), producer and lead of TV series Atlanta and, as revealed on album number three, slick, swagger-dripping soul, blues and funk crooner. There were splashes of singing on last album ‘Because The Internet’, but nothing like this. ‘Awaken, My Love!’ sees him shrieking lyrics and oozing class throughout, the record licked with a vintage touch. The hazy G-funk introduction of ‘Me And Your Mama’ could dupe you into thinking he’s going to pay homage to his West Coast home of California, but the shock of screeching guitar chords and his belting vocals soon indicate this is no hip hop album. ‘Zombies’ comes armed with a touch of psychedelia, paired with a tender female vocal hook deserving of the Drive soundtrack, while he channels his inner Curtis Mayfield on the squelchy, lovestruck ‘Redbone’.

The vocal switch-up comes on ‘California’, giving the lungs a rest and instead jittering away atop playful chimes and bottle blowing. That track’s a bit of an anomaly, a giddy surf rock-esque jam amid sensitive songs based around a child and its mother. ‘Baby Boy’ is the deepest of the lot, with creeping electronic guitar riffs acting as the foundation for desperate “don’t take him away” pleas. Of course, there are going to be groans about the disappearance of rapping, but Childish is an all-round entertainer, not just an MC. Charming, incredibly soulful and emotionally charged, this record introduces us to a whole new, golden side of Donald Glover – and should elevate him to a new level of stardom. Dave Turner

9/10

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