Skip to content

Justin Timberlake is in Full Command of “The 20/20 Experience”

March 18, 2013

By John C.

The 20:20 Experience CD CoverThroughout the years, Justin Timberlake has proven himself to be a performer who is always capable of reinventing himself.  The first of these comebacks came with the release of his debut album Justified back in 2002, proving himself as an accomplished solo act after gaining stardom as part of N’Sync.

His second reinvention came after the success of his 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds and the hit single “SexyBack,” when he took a break from music to reinvent himself as an accomplished actor, with his acclaimed performance in The Social Network putting him squarely on the critical map.

The many different styles of Justin Timberlake’s career are present throughout his latest album The 20/20 Experience, coming out tomorrow and currently streaming for free on iTunes.  It’s a daring and adventurous pop album that is often stunning in the way that it blends styles and keeps building upon itself throughout the ten tracks, before closing on the most unexpected of notes.  Justin Timberlake continues to prove himself as a performer who is entertaining in every aspect of what he does.

The album opens with him singing of love as a quite literal drug on the opening track “Pusher Love Girl,” a song that starts as a smooth R&B track, before being hypnotically remixed in the second half with repeats and a thumping beat.  The second track was also the first single.  A smooth celebration of getting dressed up and going out on the town, “Suit & Tie” is the perfect example of the sort of fusion between the jazzy influences of a bygone era and modern pop music that are present throughout the entire album.  The instrumentals give it the sound of a big band song, but when Jay-Z comes on to rap partway through the track, it becomes something undeniably modern but equally effective.

The third track is “Don’t Hold The Wall,” a song that starts with a tribal beat that perfectly complements Justin Timberlake’s vocals, before finally building to an often hallucinatory dance track that is sure to be a hit at the clubs.  From the instrumentals to the repetitive sampling of dialogue throughout the song, it takes a couple of listens to fully appreciate everything that is going on with this stunningly multilayered track.  Next up is the fourth track “Strawberry Bubblegum,” a slyly suggestive song that is seductive and wholly irresistible.  The genuine sweetness of this song fades into the brilliant fifth track.

“Tunnel Vision” builds with all the signature elements of producer Timbaland, as Justin Timberlake sings with the intensity and passion of a man becoming increasingly more interested in someone else across the club.  The way that the numerous different parts of this track build upon each other is perfectly constructed, a brilliantly layered song that gains something new with every listen.  The lyrics of the next track “Spaceship Coupe” are the most out there on the album, about blasting off in a rocket and making love on the moon.  But the vocals are strong and the instrumentals are well put together, giving the song more depth than the lyrics might suggest.  The way that the track slowly fades out is haunting.

Next up are the seventh and eighth tracks, which are clear standouts on the album and also two of my absolute favourites.  Performed by JT and the Tennessee Kids, “That Girl” is jazzy and soulful song that is exciting in the way that it keeps building upon itself and changing speed throughout the song.  Strongly infused with a Latin beat and African hand drumming, “Let The Groove Get In” is the sort of high energy track that is absolutely stunning in the way that it starts off with an instantly addictive hook and builds to something undeniably complete.  Both of these tracks have amazing replay quality.

The ninth track is another clear standout.  The deeply romantic “Mirrors” is a touching and inspirational track that seems destined to become the perfect wedding song.  Justin Timberlake’s vocals are incredibly moving, making full use of his range to deliver some of the most poignant lyrics on the album, a love song that is both epic and intimate at the same time.  The album closes with the surprisingly somber “Blue Ocean Floor,” a beautifully quiet track carried by hypnotic instrumentals and contemplative lyrics that could suggest many different things, reminiscent of Radiohead.  This is yet another strong showcase for the way that Justin Timberlake is so perfectly in tune with his voice throughout the album.

This is an album that presents an often stunning fusion of throwback styles and modern pop that all sounds just as smooth.  The sound is sometimes reminiscent of the laid back R&B of Frank Ocean and the smooth sound of Bruno Mars, while other times infused with hypnotic club beats and jazzy big band arrangements.  It’s hard to tell how casual listeners expecting something different might react, but this is an excellent album filled with what makes Justin Timberlake so appealing in the first place.  His voice is always easy on the ears, as he seamlessly shifts between his regular voice and a perfect falsetto.

The entire album is seventy minutes long, with several of the ten tracks running for longer than seven minutes.  After several listens, The 20/20 Experience becomes something incredibly addictive, the sort of strikingly mature record that deserves to be heard all the way through with the long intros and outros, but also has plenty of standout tracks that play just as well on their own.  This is an excellent representation of the many different styles of Justin Timberlake’s latest comeback.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: