ALBUM REVIEW: Justin Timberlake - 'The 20/20 Experience'
Justin Timberlake is poised to have one of the biggest opening week sales figures this year. The Timbaland helmed 10 song LP feels like a natural progression from his previous, 2006 effort “FutureSex/LoveSounds”. Let’s delve into more detail with a track by track run through Justin Timberlakes new Album “The 20/20 Experience”.
Pusher Love- The albums first track gives us a rapturous welcome in the form of a glorious string arrangement. From the offset its hard to ignore the blatant junky/drug lyric (wonder if Radio will care) but it manages to not come across as controversy seeking. Not long into the song were ushered into familiar JT territory with his trademark falsetto. Vocal production like much of the album is a high point of the song. The second half see’s Justin try on his Rap Hat- something I would kinda prefer was left on an SNL sketch. (7.5/10)
Suit And Tie ft Jay Z- The first single from the project seemed to leave the masses underwhelmed but introduced us to Justin’s new direction in laid back “Champagne Pop”- not too dissimilar to his collaborators 2003 single “Change Clothes”. Much like the aforementioned song, there is an almost neptune-ish quality to the production. By this time it’s clear Justin’s gone through some changes vocally- it almost sounds like he isn’t trying. (7/10)
Don’t Hold the wall- This feels like a Timbaland ft Justin track as we hear Mr Mosely back in his trademark asian club beat space. It could be the production or the melody choices but it reminds me of a “Justified” track. I may be too used to David Guetta at this stage but it sounds a little dated. It’s not until the 2 half of the track do I actually begin to enjoy the song- one of VERY few times I welcome Justin’s new habit of 7 minute plus tracks.(5/10)
Strawberry Bubblegum- Justin sounds unrecognizable at the beginning of this track, it’s not until the Falsetto hits that I’m convinved its actually him. Production is really on trend with the recent wave of modern alt-R & B (Miguel/Frank/Jhene)- 80’s influences run throughout. The vibe of the track reminds me of one of my favourite JT songs “Let’s take a Ride” from Justified. But lyrically this is a low point of the experience “Smacking that Strawberry Bubblegum- you really got me”. In what can only be interpreted as an attempt to breath life into an otherwise average song Timberlake and Timbaland decide we need another song/3 minute extension. (6/10)
Tunnel Vision- Fans of R & B will love this one. I see Justin has decided he’s big enough to not have to court friends at radio. This is a straight up 90’s Timbaland return to form. Now don’t hunt me down to slap me when I say this BUT I could hear Aaliyah on this track- the melody just screams of her days collaborating with Tim. Melody, Lyric, Vocal arrangement, Production- Tunnel Vision a true example of why the Timbaland/Timberlake pairing works. (8/10)
Spaceship Coupe- Apologies in advance for all the comparisons but I need to point out that this album isn’t boundary pushing or original in anyway. With that being said this sounds like a song off of Destiny Fulfilled- harmonies and melody would lend themselves perfectly to Bey and the girls. A nice enough song- cleaning on a Sunday kinda vibe. Again- the second section to the song is unnecessary. (7/10)
That Girl- Justin introduces us to his band The Tennesse Kids on this one- a live real instrumentation featuring throwback cut. I can’t say it enough, but I really love the vocal arrangements on this album! But I can’t help but wish someone else was singing these songs. Usher would murder this! And speaking of Usher- this kind of reminds me of one of the weaker tracks no Confessions. Nice, if a little uneventful. (6.5/10)
Let The Groove Get In- An obvious single choice from the opening chant. An Alt-Club track which has its roots deep in the school of Michael Jackson much like Beyonce’s “End Of Time”. For the first time in the whole album it sounds like we have the Justin we know and love back. Still pretty live sounding. Feels like we could have had a little more melodically but I dare you not to bounce even a little! It will be very interesting to see this performed live. At 3 mins 10 in I’m ready for the song to end but I can only assume the second half of song is an intro to the set up of his live shows. This will be the part in the concert where he goes off to get water and change jacket. Uneventful 2nd half. (8/10- first part 3/10 second part)
Mirrors- Albums only true pop moment. I love this song. (9/10)
Blue Ocean Floor- Justin has clearly been listening to a lot of music during his time off. This sees him adopting the Alt- RNB sound further. A million names spring to mind when I listen to this but Dawn Richard would sound amazing over this beat. There are some Brandy influenced melodic choices and phrasing as though it was written by Frank Ocean. We find Timbaland at his most interesting production wise here. A little self indulgent but still really nice! (8/10)
Overall this sounds like a JT and Timbaland having fun doing exactly what THEY want. Justin’s hiatus was self induced and he always maintained that he would not make another album until he was inspired to do so. And inspired he was, this album see’s him try on the hat of many of RNB’s modern day heroes. But somehow even with his voice not at its best, Justin manages to maintain an identity through it all. Maybe it’s his natural charisma or maybe he just has enough tonal qualities to differentiate himself from the pack- but either way theres no denying this is a Justin Timberlake Album. Well, it’s a Timberlake/Timbaland album. Strong-ish songs and almost flawless production from his partner are only let down by the songs being stretched beyond their reach. Do I like it- yes. Do I love it- No. But with projected first week sales of 750,000 in the US alone, I doubt many people agree!