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Justin Timberlake serves up “The 20/20 Experience”

Published: Monday, March 18, 2013

Updated: Monday, March 18, 2013 01:03


Justin Timberlake’s upcoming album, “The 20/20 Experience” — due for release Tuesday — will attempt to live up to the hype that’s been built up by twenty-somethings who adored his curly, highlighted afro days in ’N Sync.

Opening up with an orchestral, and almost whimsical, introduction to “Pusher Love Girl,” Timberlake deals a hand of what most of the album will entail — a jazzy, adult version of his notoriously sultry R&B sound. 

The song, which he first performed at the Grammy Awards, is much slower than Timberlake originally exhibited for his peers, and dances with time travel — mixing vintage sounds with electronic beats and muffled rap by Timberlake toward the end of the extended song.

The theme of morphing new with old sets the tone for the rest of the album, carrying into the debut single “Suit and Tie.”

Days before Timberlake’s first release since 2006, multiple media outlets gave different theories of why Timberlake is out of touch, or why he is trying to be a part of an era of music which he missed the boat into. 

Some say he was replaced by a new Justin — Bieber, that is — but the most realistic theory, is that Timberlake, now 32 years old and married, has entered a new phase in his own life and career, thus producing a new sound to accommodate his major life changes.

Once again, Timberlake joins Timbaland, for an exotic-sounding “Don’t Hold the Wall” with an overwhelming amount of background effects and an equally
unnecessary amount of dialogue and repetition, which lasts longer than seven minutes, like many of the other nine songs on the album. 

However, the song drags a bit and seems too busy.

It’s evident that Timberlake was trying to channel early-2000s collaborations with Timbaland, but it isn’t nearly as magical as it was for the 2006 album “FutureSex/ LoveSounds.” 

Leading with a chillingly warm voice over electro-pop synthesized sounds, “Strawberry Bubblegum” attempts to do something different, producing a stark contrast between the singer’s irresistible falsetto for the sexual-innuendo laced verses and intriguing bass vocalist that makes cameos throughout the song. 

A couple of questionable moves on slow tempo tunes such as “Spaceship Coupe” feel as if Timberlake is trying a bit too hard to recreate his updated version of Prince meets the sex-sells mentality from “FutureSex/LoveSounds.”

But Timberlake redeems himself with the immediately subsequent “That Girl,” making use of big-band horns to reference his place in the tabloids with his now-wife Jessica Biel.

The album’s second single, “Mirrors,” takes away the new or old, stripping down to what Timberlake shines with — the mid-tempo, soulful and honest music that gave him a lasting solo career away from the boy-band stigma.

Timberlake takes a bold step in “Blue Ocean Floor,” further releasing the digital beats and computerized instruments that most of his music tends to work well with.  

Closing the album, the song drifts through a serious setting, with a sound reminiscent of music by singer Sia.

There won’t be many different variations of opinion when this album hits stores and digital outlets tomorrow. 

Timberlake accomplished what he set out to do. He created enough excitement for this new sound to wrangle in his aging following and has mostly lived up to what many audiences were expecting. Timberlake has relaunched himself, showing listeners that he is the original Justin with an original sound. 

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