“The 20/20 Experience” by Justin Timberlake
By: Melissa Berne
It’s been seven years.
It’s been seven years since Justin Timberlake birthed the acclaimed album FutureSex/LoveSounds. And since then, avid fans have been waiting to hear more music from him.
But after a seven-year long break from music, how does an artist make their “comeback”? Well, you partner-up with legendary producer Timbaland—again.
After filling up his non-music years with movie-making, Timberlake is finally ready to release his third solo album. The highly anticipated album is christened The 20/20 Experience.
Timberlake has said this album, sonically, delves deeper into FutureSex/LoveSounds.
While the sophomore album was an R&B album, the junior album is infused R&B. Producer, and long-time collaborator Timbaland uses digital sounds, horns, percussion, the harmonica, and, in one song, even cricket noises. Yes, you read that correctly. The noisy night creatures have a purpose, though, and it’s all apart of the ’20/20 Experience’ show.
Find out if JT’s new avenue is a hit or miss after the jump!
The set opens up with “Pusher Love Girl.” A crooning R&B track, to accompany the crisp look of the single “Suit & Tie.”
An opening that reminisces music from the classic films of the 50s and 60s,“Pusher Love Girl” has twirling violin sounds and a booming horn section. The mid-tempo song demonstrates Timberlake’s famous falsetto, along with slick harmonies as part of the backdrop.
In true FutureSex/LoveSounds fashion, instead of skipping to the next track, the song slyly changes its sound, and, before you know it, listeners are in the second half of “Pusher Love Girl,” with its horns section stripped and adding more of a Hip-hop sound to it.
Timbaland starts mixing things up with a sexy song called “Don’t Hold The Wall.” And it’s in this song that he uses the crickets as an indicator of nighttime.
In the song, Timberlake tries to charm a girl by saying “dance/don’t hold the wall/let go.” It’s a club record laced with a mysterious Arabian sound, and it’s with this kind of song that paints a picture for the listener. It’s as if you’re seeing the music.
The album grows richer as it cuts to “Strawberry Bubblegum.” The provocative, mid-tempo electronic-infused track stands out from the ever-popular genre, of today, because of its subtly. The music doesn’t drown or hide or distort Timberlake’s voice.
One of my favorite songs is “Tunnel Vision.” The track and the vocal arrangement makes me nostalgic for Timbaland during his reigning 90s era with Aaliyah and Ginuwine. With the producer’s signature vocal interjections in the background, urgent drum beats, and beatboxing, Timbaland’s skills alone are upstaging Justin Timberlake’s voice.
“Tunnel Vision” is another one where you can listen while closing your eyes, and you see the music notes move as a story in your head as Timberlake is serenading that because of his love for this girl all he sees is her, and thus has tunnel vision.
The one moment on the album that’s kind of “Eh,” for me, is “Let The Groove Get In.” It’s an album filler that sounds like a lost Michael Jackson demo. The latin-flavored track isn’t horrible, but it’s completely scrap-worthy.
Just when you think the entire album is all love songs, in comes “Blue Ocean Floor,” the heart-wrenching closer. Again, there are interesting sound effect choices as this song has camera shots sounds sampled in the track along with Timberlake’s solemn vocals. While listening, you might find yourself with a frown on your face because the lyrics cut deep.
Merging old-school crooning with Pop and R&B, and the occasional cricket noises, Timberlake and super-producer Timbaland are like brilliant, mad scientists in a lab.
They made a concoction of different sounds and it exploded with Justin Timberlake re-claming his spot in the music scene.
Favorite tracks: “Pusher Love Girl,” “Don’t Hold The Wall” and “Tunnel Vision”
“The 20/20 Experience” is available on iTunes March 19th.