As a former (and forever) fan of N*Sync and everything Justin Timberlake has ever done in his musical career, I was so excited to find out that he would be coming out with his first studio album in over seven years this March. I was really into his last two albums, “Justified” and “FutureSex/LoveSounds.” “Justified” featured hits like “Cry Me a River,” “Senorita,” and “Like I Love You.” “FutureSex/LoveSounds” included Timberlake’s most notable track, “SexyBack,” as well as “LoveStoned,” and “My Love.” His newest album, titled “The 20/20 Experience,” relies on the same Timberlake staples his fans have grown to love with a few added twists, like his falsetto voice, beat boxing, and perfect harmonizing.
The album has already gained a ton of fame, based solely on the two singles that have been released so far. “Suit and Tie” and “Mirrors” are both blowing up, each wonderful for different reasons. “Suit and Tie” relies on a classic hip-hop beat with melodious R&B lines floating above it. The fact that Jay-Z is featured in it doesn’t hurt. “Mirrors,” the longest song on the album at 8 minutes and 5 seconds, kicks off with an electric guitar melody that is reminiscent of Queen or indie rock band fun. Once that cuts out, Timberlake’s beat boxing comes in and is a really crisp backdrop throughout the song, even during the catchy chorus.
Upon listening to the rest of the album, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed in some spots. Not even my blind love could hide the fact that the album got a bit boring at times. My least favorite track, “Strawberry Bubblegum,” has almost a full minute of producer and recording artist Timbaland doing a repetitive voiceover at the beginning. Lyrically, the album is not very strong, especially on “Strawberry Bubblegum,” with lines like “Don’t ever change your flavor ‘cuz I love the taste.”
On the plus side, it was nice to not be bombarded with tracks where the subject matter focused on cliché metaphors about a hot girl and a dance club. It was clear that Timberlake’s subject matter has matured and that was refreshing, but the lyrics could use some work. Luckily, the musicality of the album saves it, because every track is unique, with hard-hitting, old school, original beats. I appreciated that.
I loved the adult sound that carried through the tracks, some infused with R&B melodies, or funky guitar parts, and others gliding smoothly in and out of jazzy licks. There were violin solos, synthesizer sounds, and classic drum beats. The songs were very long, averaging about 6-7 minutes, which during my first listen, I thought would be really annoying, but it wasn’t. The length allowed the music to shine and it’s been a long while since a pop artist’s album has done that this well.
Personally, I was not a fan of all the Timbaland voiceovers. I could do without him saying “Uh huh” a million times in “Tunnel Vision.” I know that he was responsible for a lot of the album’s beats though, so I can’t ignore the fact that he did a good job there. I just thought his seemingly useless presence on a few of the tracks themselves got annoying.
Overall, this album is worth buying, in my book. It’s clear that Timberlake has grown into his musical presence and this album proves that. There might be a couple of dud songs but the trance-feel of songs like “Don’t Hold the Wall” paired with the funky undertones of songs like “That Girl” make up for that. All in all, this body of work is cohesive and clean, so if you’ve got an hour and ten minutes to spare, put your glasses on. It’s time for a 20/20 experience.