‘The 20/20 Experience’ Timberlake delivers a visionary comeback
JT is back and better than ever.
After an almost seven year hiatus from music, Justin Timberlake evaporates into the music scene with flawless magnitude. “The 20/20 Experience” delivers the JT sensation we have been craving.
Released on March 19, the album emphasizes rhythm and flow as we are taken on a digital funk journey through decades and decadence. Timberlake effortlessly seams together pop, electronic and jazz sounds. He once again proves how an avant-garde musical experience can be both progressive and pop.
1. Pusher Love Girl
As the first track, “Pusher Love” foreshadows the mood of the entire album. The song follows a love-drug metaphor (think, a more sophisticated version of Ke$ha’s “Your Love is My Drug”) that transpires into a mid-song breakdown heard in several of the other songs. It embodies the trippy succulence of a new relationship and is one of the catchiest songs on the record.
2. Suit and Tie ft. Jay-Z
This is the most radio-friendly song on the album, hence it being his first single. “Suit and Tie” reflects a modern Marvin Gaye jam. Its whimsical cosmopolitan feel is the sensation Timberlake seems to have based the entire album on. Jay-Z and Timberlake co-headline a tour this summer. 3. Dont Hold the Wall
It takes a few listens to dissect the masterpiece of Timbaland’s masterpiece, as several layers intricately compliment one another in this tribal tune. Timberlake does a fantastic job of expressing the raw sexuality through an elegant sensuality. Through the rainsticks and tribal chanting, Timberlake relays the primitive intensity of a physical relationship.
4. Strawberry Bubblegum
The fourth track is a simplistic techno R&B song that features a smooth beat. Its peaceful melodies reflect a mellow rendition of something that might be heard on his second solo album, “FutureSex/ LoveSounds.” The end of the song transforms into an elevator-music feeling due to the upbeat drum rhythm and airy fickle sound, but combined with the symbolic childish lyrics, it works.
5. Tunnel Vision
At the center of the album, “Tunnel Vision” is the core of the Timberlake/Timbaland collaborative genius. The sound is both reflective of their distinct style as well as a toxic example of the growth and maturity since the 2006 album. The arrangement crumbles and reassembles itself with a darker and more urgent sound, showing the duo’s affinity toward juxtaposing simple and complex elements of a song.
6. Spaceship Coupe
Intergalactic love like we’ve never heard it before. The lyrics are too reliant on the symbolism of outer space lovemaking (“I want to find the alien in you” and “space lover cocoon”) and make it hard to get engulfed in the mellow R&B mood. It sounds like a dubious tribute to R. Kelly, and combined with the discomforted heavy breathing and cliche synthesizer melody, falls flat compared to the brilliance of the rest of the album.
7. That Girl
In the spirit of combining old school sound with futuristic style, “That Girl” brings us to a modern speakeasy with “JT & the Tennessee Kids” performing a transcendental jazz rhythm that showcases Timberlake’s rich voice. The song is simple, from the lyrics down to the brass line, but has a blase feel that comforts the listener like a cool breeze on a hot summer night.
8. Let the Groove Get it
Such as with “Don’t Hold the Wall,” the eighth track has a tribal chanting that transports us to a sexy Brazilian block party. The exhilarating percussion beat and bellowing horns leave the listener with little choice but to toe tap through the seven minutes of pop-Americana greatness. The polished execution proves Timberlake and Timbaland’s musical prowess as they combine unorthodox style with mainstream beats.
The song emulates an unspeakable desperation to prove unwavering love for another person, which makes sense considering Timberlake’s recent marriage to longtime girlfriend Jessica Biel. He brilliantly metaphors a mirror reflection that soul mates have within each other in lyrics like “I don’t want to lose you now/I’m looking right at the other half of me.”
10. Blue Ocean Floor
A gutsy conclusion to the album, “Blue Ocean Floor” is a culmination of all the style and substance of “The 20/20 Experience” into a somber and seducing tone. The song is dripping with captivating layers of piano dissonance and elongated electronic melodies. Of the ten songs on the album, “Blue Ocean” shows an unprecedented mature depth to Timberlake. We are submerged into a tranquil symphony of harmony and expression, endlessly floating through peaceful melodies that are nothing short of perfection. He saved the best for last.
BY BRIAN ASHBURN