A lot has changed since Justin Timberlake released his last album FutureSex/LoveSounds. The U.S. economy has tanked (and recovered), electronic dance music has become mainstream, and his contemporaries Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera have somehow found themselves in the reality TV wasteland.
With The 20/20 Experience, however, it’s as if Timberlake never left. Picking up from where he left off, Timberlake gets back to the studio with long-time collaborator Timbaland along with Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon and Rob Knox.
The standouts: The well-produced “Pusher Love Girl” gives Timberlake many chances to show off his falsetto without annoying the listener. “Tunnel Vision” is another deliciously catchy track.
Just like singles “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors,” “Strawberry Bubblegum” is a radio-friendly track with a strong melody.
Skip the following: “Let The Groove Get In” evokes earlier decades, but Timberlake’s voice gets drowned out by the production here. I can see this song working better live, however.
“Blue Ocean Floor” is a tad boring, especially after following the aforementioned “Mirrors.”
The verdict: Although less cohesive than FutureSex/LoveSounds, The 20/20 Experience is a slick, polished and mostly successful effort. Expected to sell more than 900,000 in the US in its debut week, this album promises to be this year’s biggest release — unless the album’s second part, which will be released later this year miraculously sells more.
From his look this era to the instruments used in the production of the album, Timberlake is successful in bringing class back. Some of the songs in The 20/20 Experience are unnecessarily long, but Timberlake’s vision for the album comes through. And although the album lacks variety, most of the songs sound good and are unique from what pop radio is offering right now.
When Timberlake declared in January that he’s “ready,” he wasn’t kidding. He may have left the music industry for a few years, but The 20/20 Experience reveals a more confident musician who refuses to follow the trend to sell records. This is one Mickey Mouse Club member we’ll be seeing more of in the next few years.