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Childish Gambino’s New ‘Summer Pack’ Isn’t Urgent, and That’s Fine

The new pair of songs from Donald Glover don’t indicate the direction of his upcoming album

AP Images/Ringer illustration

“I like endings,” Donald Glover said in 2015 after being asked whether he would someday retire his Childish Gambino alter ego. Glover’s answer, characteristically, was charming and evasive. In the intervening time, owing to more winks and nudges and suggestive interviews given by people close to Glover, it now seems that his follow-up to 2016’s Awaken, My Love! may be his last album altogether. But what will the curtain call sound like? I’m seriously asking. Take the first two offerings together, which were markedly different: “This Is America,” which arrived the first Saturday of May, was a heavy, violent, punishing trudge through the country’s id that passes the car test with flying colors.

“Saturday,” which debuted on SNL, was completely carefree—a sunny little roller-skating jam that sounded like bursting fire hydrants and Fla-Vor-Ice freezer pops. Glover’s new two-song Summer Pack, which arrived on Wednesday out of nowhere, is similarly humid and danceable, even if it’s more apt for body rolling than grapevining. It’s eight and a half minutes of music intended for the summer—you can tell because both songs have “summer” in their titles, and also because the first rustles to life with steel drums.

Ludwig Goransson, who crafted the Parliament-Funkadelic sound of Awaken, is back on his Maze shit. About a minute in, “Summertime Magic” steps through a bead door curtain and transforms into something you could play at a poolside party. Glover seems to only touch the production with the very tips of his toes, floating over a thumping bassline with his very best falsetto, cooing sweet nothings about dancing the night away.

“Feels Like Summer” is more sickly sweet—a feathery ballad weighted down with concerned, we live in a society lyrics. If “Summertime Magic” is the excitement of late June, “Feels Like Summer” is more like the exhaustion of late August:

Every day gets hotter than the one before
Running out of water, it’s about to go down
Go down
Air that kill the bees that we depend upon
Birds were made for singing
Waking up to no sound
No sound

Both “Summertime Magic” and the slower-paced “Feels Like Summer” sound a bit like rehashes of 2014’s Kauai EP, and neither sounds fully realized. To wit, neither seems like it’ll be in the discussion for Song of the Summer in a few weeks’ time. But neither that nor what the Summer Pack portends for the forthcoming Final Gambino Album seems especially urgent to these new songs. They’re placid, airy, and will fit nicely into your “Four Buttons Undone” playlist. Just remember to apply sunscreen.