It’s been a while since Justin Timberlake graced the world with his music. After a good run with the boy band ‘N SYNC and a stunning pair of solo albums, Timberlake decided to take a little break from music. He has been busy in Hollywood — just outside of the recording studio. Namely, he’s been on the silver screen and walked down the aisle with Jessica Biel. But last week he decided to drop his first album in seven years. Is he making a return just to show Bieber who the real Justin is? That remains to be seen, but The 20/20 Experience is hard to overlook.
Timberlake has returned to the studio with his long-time collaborator Timbaland to produce a project that sounds like it will easily win multiple Grammys. He is back to his hip-hop soul roots, with production reminiscent of his early solo days. “Pusher Lover Girl” is a great track, with Timberlake deciding to rap halfway through the song (and showing that he is definitely adept in that department). “Suit & Tie” (Featuring Jay-Z) is a bit of a throwback, bearing similar influences to both “Like I Love You” (Featuring Clipse) and “My Love” (Featuring T.I.). Timbaland has managed to make every song sound like a journey from start to finish, with every drum, synth and instrument hitting where it needs to be. 20/20 has enough varied production to be compared to Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) while adding his own twist on certain concepts.
Vocally, Timberlake’s performances are nothing short of magnificent in most of the tracks. He tends to make each and every track his own with the skip-worthy exception of “Suit & Tie.” In “That Girl,” Timberlake delivers a very soulful ballad over slow bass, horns and guitar. It is easily one of the strongest on the album (if not the strongest).
For an album with only ten songs, it sure knows how to drag on. The biggest complaint about this album is that the shortest song is “That Girl” (4:48), which means every song takes extra time to remind you of the hook and chorus before switching into a different style midway. It sounds nice, but after the fourth song in a row that lasts more than five minutes (or even six in some cases) it becomes a little exhausting to listen to the entire song.
Despite being the lead single, “Suit & Tie” is the most unimpressive song from 20/20. It may feature Jay-Z, but he doesn’t rap at his usual caliber and Timberlake sounds more like Robin Thicke than himself.
Despite the album dragging on most of the time, The 20/20 Experience is a strong effort and a good addition to 2013’s musical catalogue. Timberlake and Timbaland have crafted project that is good to listen to from start to finish, at times making him sound more like a traditional R&B singer than some of his contemporary peers. This album is worth a purchase, but do yourself a favor and skip “Suit & Tie” every time.
- “Pusher Lover Girl”
- “Don’t Hold the Wall”
- “That Girl”
- “Let the Groove Get In”