Labeling Justin Timberlake as an artist merely glides upon the level of his vision. The casual nature of the word simply does not pay homage to the domain JT has composed for himself over the last decade. After the wave of boy bands ended at the beginning of the millennium, Timberlake seized the change and has only grown since. His last two solo albums (2002's Justified
and 2006's FutureSex/ LoveSounds
) confirmed his duality and talent as a musician. It's also interesting to realize that The 20/20 Experience
is only his third album; and somehow he's become inescapable.
Whether he's acting, opening up a new restaurant, or assuming the role as creative director for Budlight Platnium (yes, this is all true
), it leaves us to wonder: where the hell did he find the time to produce this album?
Of course, with the all-star team that is Timbaland and JT, you couldn't expect a flop. Really, they just wouldn't allow that to happen. Which is most certainly why we waited about seven years for 20/20
. There is no normalcy or repetitive themes here: you are listening to a young, happily married, successful dude backed by an elite big band. Phew.
The electro-pop beats were tastefully tuned to pop hits, but 20/20
holds something intangible to fellow pop albums: it doesn't need to delve into synth and simple lyricism to disseminate the message. Instead, this album oozes class. It creates a mood, and this isn't an effort, it's an accomplishment.
Backed by the Tennessee Kids, JT's flavor boasts his roots of soulful Tennessee class. It feels like this album is quenching pop's thirst for authenticity and timelessness. The 20/20 Experience
is in fact an experience. There aren't hints of forced songs, or tired efforts. Instead, it works more as a whole. Justin sounds as glorious as ever, and whether or not this is due to his new marriage with Miss Jessica Biel, you can feel the fleeting Honeymoon-ness within his vocal chords. The suited and tied man is quite content, as he damn well should be.
On tracks like "Don't Hold The Wall" and "Let The Groove Get In", we can see the experimentation with hints of a tribal sounds embedded within the beats. It's absolutely lovely. With this record, you're not getting the impression that this is just one of JT's many carefully planned side jobs. This is the greatness of Timberlake: how often do we see a pop musician mastering a doo-wop feel and a vocal range as bad ass as Freddie Mercury's.
Without delving into trends, JT makes his own instead. The 20/20 Experience
evokes the sentimentality of a vinyl with tracks like "That Girl", transporting you to a funkified club from the past. Even the slowest, final track, "Blue Ocean" leaves a soothing, and lasting impression of the entire body.
Although it seems like everything Justin Timberlake touches turns to gold, the genius and accessibility he has crafted with this album is a prime example of exceptional concentration. Recently, Questlove announced to Rolling Stone that the full 20/20 Experience
has yet to come: there will be 10 more songs set to release in November. And with that, we are only left with two things: to enjoy the terrific energy of this new album, and still wonder when and how Justin Timberlake finds the time to sleep.