"The 20/20 Experience" Album Review
By Sami Mello
Mar 14, 2013 - 11:16:54 AM

HOLLYWOODAfter an extensive six year hiatus from the music industry, Justin Timberlake returns this week with his newest release “The 20/20 Experience,” set to debut March 15.

The first song off the new album, “Pusher Love Girl,” sets the listener up for a Jackson 5 inspired soul jam. Its broken-down drum beat and funky guitar groove provide a simple rhythm for Timberlake to showcases his dynamic vocal styling.

“Pusher Love Girl” is easily the most traditional sounding Timberlake track on the album. However, the listener is only getting a little taste of what’s to come. This eight minute track contains a variety of elements that pop up on other songs on the album, such as: tempo changes, rhythmic breakdowns and experimental soundscapes.

The next couple of songs on the album, “Suit & Tie” and “Don’t Hold The Wall” start off with slow, drawn-out choruses that sound like a lean-inspired hip-hop track. However, Timberlake quickly transforms the songs into seductive dance hits, with pulsating rhythms and a falsetto-charm that only he can pull off.

The songs on “The 20/20 Experience” are more broken down than Timberlake’s previous releases. The beats are less produced and less pop oriented and have more of a spacey feel to them, making use of stray percussion and psychedelic sounds.

Justin Timberlake. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

After listening to the album, it is clear that these songs are less personal than some of Timberlake’s previous hits such as, “Cry Me A River” or “What Goes Around”¦/”¦Comes Around.” The album is less emotionally engaging. Timberlake sounds happy and fulfilled on almost all of the tracks, leaving out the signature sound of heartbreak and sorrow that appeared on previous albums.

There are times when the highly experimental beats, from longtime collaborator and producer Timbaland, distract from Timberlake’s singing. There are a lot of strings, horns and random genre infusions on this album. The song, “Let The Groove In,” uses afrobeat and soca rhythms, reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin Something.”

“Tunnel Vision” manages to tap into the sexy, angst-driven pop style that Timberlake is known for. This track carries a little more emotional weight than the other songs on the album. “That Girl” is another notable pop song on the album. On other songs where it sounds like Timberlake is merely singing over a sparse beat, on “That Girl,” his soul shines through his singing.  

It would be a stretch to say that Justin Timberlake channels the likes of Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder on this album, but he definitely makes a grandiose attempt.

Out of the ten songs on the album, there are some hits and some flops. With an average track length of seven minutes, some of the songs seem drawn-out and depressed while others come off as upbeat and exciting. One thing is for certain, Justin Timberlake has a hypnotic voice that deserves a listen.

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