The “Justified” triple threat who brought “sexy back” is out in the music scene again with The 20/20 Experience after a six-year hiatus. Justin Timberlake proves to be a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry with his chart-topping new album. But is he getting all that support because of his devilishly good looks and his newly expanded fanbase (thanks to his acting stints in The Social Network and Friends with Benefits)? Or is he truly a gifted musician whose talent never wanes?
The 20/20 Experience’s lead-off track, Pusher Love Girl, kicks off with a relaxed and groovy start. It sets the mood for the rest of the R&B record that boasts a generally loungey sound. Timberlake hits his signature high notes in Pusher Love Girl, an 8-minute song. Although it’s an unnecessarily long track, its smooth delivery and appealing melody makes it worth the duration.
Following it is another similarly sleek track, Suit & Tie, my personal favourite. This is where Timberlake becomes a real man and women start swooning (not that they have ever stopped). It sounds nothing like any of the mainstream singles that has been released in a while. Classy and ever so slightly jazzy, the trumpets did it for me. And when Jay-Z starts rapping, everything is swag and nothing sucks.
The rest of The 20/20 Experience consists of 7-8 minute songs, with the exception of That Girl. The audio distortion in Don’t Hold the Wall and Tunnel Vision not only ruins the silky flow of the album but also puts me close to sleep. Strawberry Bubblegum is another mediocre track whose pre-chorus is the only part worth listening to.
Just when there is almost nothing left to be impressed by, the album plays Mirrors, one track before the last. Despite being 8 minutes long, it’s the perfect song for Timberlake. Hard-hitting and honest, soulful and rhythmic; these are the qualities that reflect this poetic single. Four minutes into the song, it reduces to a classic breakdown of just the vocals and steady handclaps. If Mirrors had stopped there, it would’ve avoided the risk of being too draggy.
So what’s the verdict?
Once a musician, always a musician. Timberlake takes a step back and eases up on the content with The 20/20 Experience. And looking at his career right now, relaxing a little wouldn’t hurt at all. There aren’t terrible tracks in the album, only passable ones. However when a song’s good, it’s phenomenal.
Check out the music video of Mirrors and Suit & Tie!
Image Credit: Tom Munro