You Had Me At Hello: The 20/20 Experience

After a seven-year absence from music, Justin Timberlake has officially returned with Tuesday's release of his newest album, The 20/20 Experience.  

Before I get to my thoughts on the album, I feel like I need to make a confession: I liked the album before I even listened to it. 

I would consider myself a fairly big Justin Timberlake fan, however it was only until the recent resurgence of R&B music (see The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Miguel, and a potential D'Angelo comeback) when I first recognized that I needed some new JT in my life. However, after that realization, Justin's musical comeback has been the only thing I have thought about for months. But, fortunately for me, and the entire R&B genre, that day has come - and Timberlake certainly isn't rusty.

It's true: The 20/20 Experience could've been a Nickelback cover album and I'd still have it on repeat for the next three months. But even after throwing all of my Justin Timberlake bias aside (if that's possible) I still think this is a great album. 

The new album takes the smooth falsetto-filled vocals and electro-futuristic production that we loved from FutureSex/LoveSounds, and turns it into a hypnotic, emotional, seductive, and playful ten track album that only includes two tracks under six minutes long. 

20/20's lack of mainstream radio appeal is one of the things that sets this album apart from his last. In FutureSex/LoveSounds, the songs were short, catchy, and made for the airwaves. Conversely, in 20/20 the songs are long, layered, and pleasantly repetitive, making the album flow together smoothly, allowing you to get lost in the music.

But don't let the seven minute average song length deter those of you with a short attention span, as this might be Timberlake's catchiest album yet. JT snatches you up right off the top with Pusher Love Girl, putting his falsetto on full display in a snap-worthy, sax-assisted track that had me screaming "HE'S BACK!" after the first minute. How's this unbiased approach working out so far?

That fanboy response to Pusher Love Girl was very similar to my reaction when I first listened to Suit and Tie a couple of months ago. But one of the most encouraging things about this album is that Suit and Tie is probably the weakest song on 20/20. But following up Suit and Tie are two of the stronger songs on the album in Don't Hold the Wall, a song that screams Timbaland (in the best way), and Strawberry Bubblegum, the token "sexy" track on a JT album complete with a delightful beat change half way through the song to help keep the song fresh and the album flowing. Strawberry Bubblegum is a great example of the hypnotic nature of the album, as the eight minute track flies by, with soft vocals and a pulsing electronic sound that takes your mind out of reality and into some sort of JT induced trance. 

Despite the large selection of great tracks on this album, the clear standout is Mirrors. We were introduced to this song a few weeks ago, as it was announced as the second single off the album. However, with the track clocking in at eight minutes, it hasn't really gotten the kind of boost in exposure that you would expect out of a Timberlake single. Taking a page out of the FSLS track, LoveStoned, we're reintroduced to the lost art of beat-boxing, oddly enough on the most romantic track of the album. But as cheesy as beatboxing can sound, it certainly works in this track, as producer Timbaland seems to have a way of finding the right feel for a Justin Timberlake song.

Mirrors is a nice track because not only is it well-produced and well-performed musically, but lyrically it breaks down the indestructible nature that most of us see JT with, and shows that he's just a hopeless romantic sap like the rest of us. Did I say us? I meant to say you. That's not me at all...

All in all, The 20/20 Experience is a very satisfying album. Is a masterpiece piece? Probably not. But for those of you who have been patiently waiting for one of the most impressive entertainers of this era to release some damn music already, you'll be pleased to know that this album was definitely worth the wait. 

The good news is, we won't have to wait too much longer for more JT, as he's already announced that he's got another ten tracks on the way for the second half of The 20/20 Experience. Oh Justin, you know exactly how to get back into our good books. But who are we kidding, you never left. But the important thing now is: I think it's safe to say that both JT, and R&B music are officially back. And I think that's just great. 

Best Tracks: Pusher Love Girl, Mirrors, Strawberry Bubblegum, Blue Ocean Floor
Weakest Tracks: Dress On and Body Count (Aka: don't bother with the deluxe edition)

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 21, 2013 and is filed under ,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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