Probably the most-anticipated pop record since… his last one, Justin Timberlake is now delivering The 20/20 Experience (his first full-length release since 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds).
Right off the bat, it’s different. “Pusher Love Girl” opens the record with a smooth, enjoyable R&B/Soul feel but I can’t help but think that they’re trying to re-craft his image into another Bruno Mars. The edgy Timberlake doesn’t make much of an appearance this time around, however you’ll find some familiar Justin vibes on tracks like “Don’t Hold the Wall” and “Tunnel Vision” (my personal favorite here). The pre-chorus on “Mirrors” is one of my favorite melodies on this entire album, but then it slinks into a very standard sounding chorus that I would have left for lesser pop artists. It’s not quite JT-worthy.
“Let the Groove Get In” reminds me of Gloria Estefan, and “That Girl” reminds me of the last NSYNC closer track “Do Your Thing”. “Blue Ocean Floor” might as well have been a collaboration with Bjork or Radiohead. Absolutely beautiful.
What I do admire about his releases is that they don’t mind pushing away from some pop-norms. Melodies are unique, beats aren’t standard, there’s a ton of crazy production with carefully crafted samples and layers, and the songs are all like 6-8 minutes long.
It’s like prog-pop.
Actually, now that I think about it, The 20/20 Experience shows significant development in style. FutureSex was quite different than Justified, and this is yet another progression. It’s just a matter of taste and what style you prefer.
Bottom line: It’s a very well-crafted pop record, and certainly ambitious. Although there are only 10 tracks, you’ll be listening for quite a while to absorb all the intricacies. Overall, I’d say it’s a “comfortable” record… not as exciting as Justified, not as intriguing as FutureSex, but a solid collection of tracks that will surely satisfy a fan. I’ve never been a fan of rap sections in pop songs, so luckily the Jay Z interruption on “Suit & Tie” is the only one. Gone is pop-boy JT, and what’s left is a very mature artist.
…and “Tunnel Vision” is pretty badass. Best track, IMO.