Justin Timberlake is back from his six-year music industry hiatus, reminding everyone who counted him out that he still has it. In “The 20/20 Experience,” he adds his own southern Memphis roots into the music, and it works well.
“20/20” is the third solo album from Timberlake and, sonically, you wouldn’t think that he’s been away from the microphone as long as he has. Timberlake delivers almost as if he knows that whatever he says is golden to the listener’s ears.
Since Timberlake’s last full-length album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” American record producer Timbaland has been the main force behind his music. Timbaland is well known for his beat-boxy hip-hop drums and the fusion of upbeat electronic melodies and synths that accompany Timberlake’s smooth falsettos perfectly.
The first thing I noticed about the new LP is that it doesn’t have any songs that are radio-friendly in length. All but one song are over five minutes, most of them falling in the seven-to-eight minute range.
The production and beat breakdowns within the songs make them feel much shorter. The dynamic song structure makes many listeners ignore the length on first listen. Timberlake switches styles like females change clothes on this album, making every song a new experience for the eardrum. There are far too many musical styles on this album to throw it under one genre of music.
“Spaceship Coupe” is probably my favorite song on the album. If you’ve never heard a Timberlake/Timbaland collaboration, this is a good start. It’s a song about Justin escaping the earth with a companion in his spaceship coupe where there’s “only room for two.”
On the track Timberlake delivers a soulful pop-sounding record on the song “Strawberry Bubblegum,” singing sexual innuendos (hopefully) to his wife, Jessica Biel. Biel actually wore a wedding dress similar to the color of the bubblegum Timberlake sings about.
The opening track — another one of my favorites — describes Justin higher than ever on love, relating this situation to a “pusher” on the street. In this case, the pusher is a drug dealer selling him a love so addictive he has to come back for more.
Timberlake croons, “My nicotine, my blue dream, my hydroponic candy jelly bean, did you fix me up? I’m your number-one fiend.”
One of the more slept-on songs on the album will be the first single, “Suit & Tie.” When I first heard this song, I knew Timberlake was back and couldn’t wait to hear the album.
The beginning of the song starts off screwed and chopped, with Timberlake singing, “I be on my suit and tie s—. Let me show you a few things.” Justin’s a grown man now, and he could certainly show the singers of today a few things.
The Jay-Z feature is the icing on the cake. Jay spits, “I’ll show you how to do this young!” It solidifies the fact that he and Timberlake are still on top.
This album is a solid 4.5 out of 5. It’s only ten songs, but the length of them makes up for that. The second part of the record is set to release in November — the ten additional tracks will complete the 20/20 experience.