It’s quite surprising that Justin Timberlake will release part 2 of The 20/20 Experience just 5 months after the first; seeing that we’ve been waiting with bated breath for a new album for 6 years since his last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds.
We definitely welcome the news from this who has spent those long years wisely, to establish himself as a triple threat in the truest sense. We already know he can sing and dance from his ‘N Sync days. So with 2 of his 4 Emmy Awards due to acting, and having snagged lead roles in films like In Time and Friends With Benefits, he showed the world he could play more than the pretty boy who gets the girl. Thankfully, he’s finally decided to come home to his roots and bless us with a new album. But in a musical landscape where bland pop dominates, he couldn’t just give you a mere pop album.
20/20’s first single “Suit & Tie”, made you realise it was going to be so much more with its cool, languid percussion beats interspersed with finger clicking and trumpeting to give you that old school sophistication. This was an album with soul that would show the world, it was worth waiting 6 years for Timberlake to mature in just the right way.
20/20 charms with its saccharine sweet lyrics “I don’t wanna ever come down off this type of lovin’ you” made less corny his cool-cat voice. There’s no doubt that this GQ Magazine’s Sexiest Man of 2009 is a regular Casanova, and these declarations of love being some of the silkiest numbers only cements his status further. The bluesy horn and strings-laden “That Girl” and “Pusher Love Girl” please with their smooth instrumentals and an even smoother Timberlake serenading with honeyed words “we didn’t have to fall/ but we fell in love to the bottom babe”.
Though this album’s very much inspired by retro soul, there’s no doubt his head’s firmly in the modern pop game. At the hands of producer Timbaland, who also produced FutureSex/LoveSounds, “Tunnel Vision” is one of the most interesting tracks with its layers of synths and instrumentals, interspersed with Timbaland’sad-libs. Vocally, Timberlake’s spot-on, alternating between his signature falsetto and a comparatively richer tone. With Timbaland by his side, JT shows he’s willing to experiment, another sign of his musical maturity.
Sticking out like a sore thumb in this seamless collection, is the energetic “Let the Groove In”, with its Latin funk inspirations reminiscent of “Senorita”, but with more “oomph” to cater to today’s EDM-enamoured audience.
“Mirrors”, the second single off the album, would easily be the top track if not for his strained vocals reminiscent of a pre-pubescent Bieber. This pop ballad is straight away likable for its catchiness, but it’s unfortunately marred by the desperation in his voice, particularly during choruses. Gone is his audible suaveness, and replacing it are distressed proclamations of “I don’t wanna lose you now” that would make you cringe, even if his intentions of writing it for his wife are very endearing.
While the 6-time Grammy Award-winner has admitted to having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, we must warn you that 20/20 isn’t quite for ADHD people, being a long album. Songs average 6 to 7 minutes, with nothing shorter than 4 and a half minutes, which was the average duration of his Justified numbers. Maybe this is to compensate for what we’ve been missing during his hiatus.
20/20 isn’t only a great collection of tracks, but also a departure from his pretty boy days with his unconventional choices and a signal of his newfound worldliness and maturity. He’s not afraid to emulate styles of the old days, nor is he scared to embrace the ever-changing tastes of the pop world. He’s not letting the world forget him just yet.
Artiste: Justin Timberlake
Album: The 20/20 Experience
Genre: Pop, Neo Soul
Record Label: RCA
Release Date: 15th March 2013
1. Pusher Love Girl
2. Suit & Tie
3. Don’t Hold The Wall
4. Strawberry Bubblegum
5. Tunnel Vision
6. Spaceship Coupe
7. That Girl
8. Let The Groove In
10. Blue Ocean
11. Dress On
12. Body Count