Review Summary: 2 hours of Justin Timberlake talking about his sex life, and damn is it glorious.
Let’s get something straight: Justin Timberlake would be nothing if it wasn’t for Timbaland. Without Timbaland, what was he? Another throwaway boy band singer that was nothing other than a nice voice and pretty face. However, when his 1st solo record Justified came out, he enlisted legendary hip hop producers The Neptunes to produce many of the tracks on it. However, “Cry Me A River” had Timbaland producing and that resulted in the biggest hit from the album. Fast- forward 11 years and JT and Timbaland have teamed up yet again after the commercial success of FutureSex/ LoveSounds, to create The 20/20 Experience. How will the dream team fare the 2nd time around?
If there’s one thing that is for certain is that Timbaland certainly didn’t repeat himself here. While FutureSex/ LoveSounds, fitting to the title, had a very futuristic, contemporary sound to it, 20/20 goes in the exact opposite direction as a retro R&B album. Songs like “That Girl”, “Pusher Love Girl”, and “Strawberry Bubblegum” feel so smooth and sexy, like any good R&B track should be. Speaking of smooth; that is the one word that completely captures this album. Almost every track has both JT’s singing and Timbaland’s production being as sleek and polished as they can be. However, that makes track that don’t fit that mold stick out more than usual, for better (“Tunnel Vision”) or worse (“Drink You Away”). But thankfully, a majority of the tracks work wonderfully to create a cohesive sound to the album.
Since this album is heading in more of an R&B sense of style, it makes sense that almost every song is a love song. Each track is the telling of the sexual escapades of Mr. Timberlake, and how well those experiences were. He’ll compare love to anything: gum, vampires, homicide, drugs; it doesn’t matter as long as there is a way for it to sound sexual. But it works. Sure, the lines can be dumb as all hell, “If you'll be my strawberry bubblegum, Then I'll be your blueberry lollipop” But goddamn does he sell it. While his vocal style isn’t the most amazing thing on the planet, it works perfectly in this record, especially fittings in with the thing that bring this album from good to amazing: Timbaland. He isn’t one of the biggest producers in music for nothing. Every track sounds so crisp, slick and overall a joy to listen to. “True Blood”, a major highlight of Part 2, is amazingly funky and just wants you to get up and dance. But, easily the best overall song in my opinion has to be Part 1’s closer, “Blue Ocean Floor”. The vocals from Timberlake give a melancholy feel to the song, and the production, oh the production, is the most atmosphere I’ve ever felt in a pop song. I especially enjoy how the outro gives you the sense of sinking down to the depths of the never-ending sea so well.
Okay, after spewing out compliment after compliment about this album, what are the downsides? Well, I’ve already mentioned most of the problems, but expanding on those cons wouldn’t hurt. The biggest thing that hurts the album is the song run times. Almost every song is a MARATHON. Timberlake is quoted in saying, “If Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin can do 10-minute songs and Queen can do 10-minute songs, then why can't we?”. While he somewhat has a point, they never had nearly every song clock in the 7-8 minute mark! While in some tracks they are able to make it worth the long runtime, others just drag on. Also, the lyrics don’t really cover that much ground and some lines you can do nothing but facepalm to. However, easily the weakest link of the album has to be “Drink You Away”. This song stick out like a sore thumb. While every other song is slick and tight, this song sounds like straight up country music. The whiplash of jumping from these two styles is so hard, I still haven’t recovered. This track definitely could’ve been left off.
This album is a MONSTER, clocking at 144:36, over 2 hours! It will be nearly impossible to listen to this in just one sitting. However, this is some of the best pop music I have heard in a while. The production is amazing, the vocals are great, and most importantly, it’ll stay in your head: The most important thing any pop song can do. I await Justin’s next album, just don’t make me wait 7 years for it.
Pusher Love Girl
Blue Ocean Floor
Gimme What I Don't Know (I Want)