Today: Jun 17, 2024

Music Review: Justin Timerlake – The 20/20 Experience

Jon Moreno – Managing Editor

Justin Timberlake’s latest musical offspring, “The 20/20 Experience,” is more than just a listening session; it’s a mental whirlwind that takes you from the dance floor to the Milky Way and all the way back.

Tracks average seven minutes apiece and each contains a change in musical composition that either drags the song (“Pusher Love Girl”) or takes it to a whole other level (“Don’t Hold The Wall”).

With seven years cushioning his last two projects, Justin has gone through a lot. He’s a married man now, has had much success at the box office and frankly the music industry as an entirety has vastly changed. One may figure he has a lot to say, or let alone question, if he still has a place in music.

And thankfully, indeed he does.jt

He recruits old friend Timbaland to produce the album. Timbaland’s had a big part in all three of Justin’s albums and seldom do artists work with a sole producer for a full body of work.

Because of that, this record is as cohesive as any of his previous work despite it not having standout tracks like “SexyBack.” But the more spins the album gets, the more apparent it becomes that the lack of standout tracks is only because the album is consistent as a whole.

The album lets you in slowly. A mellow “Pusher Love Girl” is appealing to the ear with a beautiful bass line and accompanying angelic strings. The song is an extended drug metaphor with cheesy lines for his significant other that only work because he’s… well, he’s Justin Timberlake.

Then comes the illustrious and boastful “Suit & Tie.” Jay-Z adds depth to the track and at almost six minutes, is the shortest track on the album.

Timbaland shines on “Don’t Hold the Wall” as Justin gets the party going. The profound 808s and classic Timbaland percussion hold the record together with a melody as smooth as Justin’s vocals.

At the 4:20 mark comes a mesmerizing breakdown segment that sends off a vibration through the speakers that can be felt at one’s feet.

After a couple of upbeat songs, it’s only right that Justin winds it down a bit in “Strawberry Bubblegum.” Once again, Timbaland’s production is nothing but silk.

“Tunnel Vision” continues the album’s lucid pace into “Spaceship Coupe,” where the record’s zenith is met. “Coupe” is beautifully executed. Even Justin’s alternated vocals after the five-minute mark add an element to the track’s space concept. There’s a flanger/phaser effect that feels as if Justin is circling around the listener.

Go on to “That Girl,” Let The Groove Get In,” and “Mirrors” and this review can easily become an essay. Needless to say, Timbaland is just showing off at this point.

Then comes “Blue Ocean Floor.” There’s no true melody or “beat” here. But it’s by far the album’s strongest lyrical performance. It’s a silent killer.

“20,000 leagues away, catch up to you on the same day. Travel at the speed of light, thinking the same thoughts at the same time,” croons Justin during the song’s bridge. It’s perfection.

Justin left the limelight for seven years with substantial pressure to come through with an album that met and exceeded expectations.

“The 20/20 Experience” makes it clear that he accomplished just that.

4 1/2 Owls

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