Justin Timberlake is back. Seven years after FutureSex/LoveSound’s release, Timberlake delivers with an album demonstrating the maturity and sophistication he’s gained throughout all this time. The 20/20 Experience is sexy, not in the brazen, eager, carnal way FutureSex/LoveSounds is, but in the confident manner of an artist artfully demonstrating his prowess.
Timberlake may very well be the George Clooney of pop music - he just gets better with age. Timberlake’s music has matured well throughout the years. From his ‘N Sync days to his current status as a mature artist, Timberlake has consistently raised the bar for himself and exceeded fan expectations. If he continues on the upward swing, the rumored second volume of The 20/20 Experience will be nothing short of greatness.
Though less upbeat and dance club ready than 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, The 20/20 Experience will still rock your body to the core. Timberlake uses Southeast Asia-inspired beats and Latin rhythms ripe with sensuality to reach the rawest rhythms and get any body moving. Timberlake takes a vintage inspired approach to the album, drawing on soul, older disco and R&B influences.
This is especially evident in the previously released single, “Suit & Tie,” and one of the album’s stronger tracks, “Pusher Love Girl.” Though “Suit & Tie” sounds a bit like a mashup track, Timberlake’s smooth singing of “let me show you a few things about love” is playfully, and nearly seamlessly, integrated with Jay-Z’s verses.
“That Girl” is a standout track, so soulful it hurts. Timberlake’s vocal talent is often underutilized on previous releases, but on “That Girl” and The 20/20 Experience as a whole, he gives it his all and demonstrates his full range and styling. The use of brass adds to the appeal, lightening up the groove-heavy song.
The darker side of love is explored in “Don’t Hold the Wall” and “Tunnel Vision.” Both convey the torture of giving into seduction, the feeling of being powerless to lust or infatuation. “Tunnel Vision” is an epic track of sorts - classical musical instruments crescendo to consume the listener in the full Timberlake experience.
However, the album is not without its flaws. “Mirrors” is one of the weaker moments of The 20/20 Experience. It seems to toss Timberlake back to the 90s boy band wonderland from whence he came. The beatboxing in the background sounds human-produced, which though interesting, is just begging for the song to be covered on an upcoming episode of “Glee.” Additionally, “Spaceship Coupe” would be a stronger song without the off-putting, porn-esque screams.
Living up to the hype generated by his seven year hiatus, Timberlake is one of the few mainstream pop artists who continue the art of the album: It is seamless in its transitions, providing a pleasure-filled listening experience you’ll truly get lost in. The 20/20 Experience is Timberlake’s signal that he is confidently taking his place among today’s music royalty - a rank he’s clearly earned.
4 out of 5 stars