“The main focus here is the warm atmosphere, surrounded by numerous stylistic shifts, and of course, as with any Timbaland record, delicious samples…”
Justin Timberlake | The 20/20 Experience
It’s now almost seven years ago that Justin Timberlake brought out FutureSex/LoveSounds. Since then all has been quiet on the music front, lending his talent instead to the film studios of Hollywood. According to the man himself, the 32-year old pop sensation from Tennessee saw his comeback as something out of the blue: “I didn’t expect anything out of it. I just went into the studio and started playing around with some sounds and songs. It was probably the best time I’ve had in my career… Just creating with no rules and/or end goal in mind and really enjoying the process.” Together with his partner in crime Timbaland and upcoming producer Jerome Harmon he changed his daily routine and did something he does the best: singing. Certainly, his falsetto voice never sounded so fluently fluffy.
The new and improved Timberlake is called The 20/20 Experience. In the record’s build-up we heard ‘Suit & Tie’ and ‘Mirrors’, two mature sounding singles and something that got the eyes and ears open for more. After the singles-stuffed Justified and sensational melodies and beats on FutureSex/LoveSounds, the main focus here is the warm atmosphere, surrounded by numerous stylistic shifts, and of course, as with any Timbaland record, delicious samples.
‘Pusher Love Girl’ opens up this latest Timberlake vibe, and it’s the sound of an artist with an assured, mature sense of style. Prior to this release, he performed with The Tennessee Kids, a fantastic big band-orchestra and it must be said, it gives Justin v2013 something inherently classy. The band shine too on ‘That Girl’. Here, Justin showcases his soul and croons like no one else does.
Looking for dancefloor smashers and skyscraper Timbabeats? You will have to search for them, but ‘Let The Groove Get In’, a powerful Timbaland production, which with the repetitive funk of its chorus stacked next to modern beats, it sounds like the beginning of Michael Jackson’ solo career on Off The Wall. Elsewhere, ‘Tunnel Vision’ has the imprint of Timbaland, but unfortunately it already sounds too familiar. The curse of the man’s signature sound.
No, it’s not needed on The 20/20 Experience. If Timbaland turns out to be the 21th century Quincy Jones then Timberlake is laying serious claim to this generations Jackson. Despite the many samples and classic arrangements, the chemistry between the men behind the microphone and mixing desk is audible. The only downside to this is that it’s spread so thick. Just two songs are under five minutes in length, the rest longer than seven. Needless to say, it’s far too long. It seems that during the production process, Justin was thinking of this record as a project, not merely just an album – following in the footsteps of all the greats “Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Queen. What if they can write songs that are longer than ten minutes, why can’t I?”
While thousands of charts-lovers may run, they do so at their own misfortune. If you have the stamina, you’ll hear a beautiful, well-balanced pop record.