JT brings soulful back on ‘20/20’

by Staff

03_20_13_Entertainment_JTAlbumCoverJustin Timberlake is doing all the right things to promote his comeback. He’s starred in a hilarious episode of “Saturday Night Live,” which earned the highest ratings the show has received, performed five nights in a row during “Timberweek” on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” allowed online streaming of his new album, booked a summer tour with Jay-Z and promoted it through just about every means of mass communication. There is much hype being built around his first album in six years, “The 20/20 Experience,” but to surpass the success of “FutureSex/LoveSounds” is quite a task.

After listening to the album numerous times, it won’t strike you as fast as “FutureSex/LoveSounds” does, but it grows on you. When “LoveSounds” came out, Timberlake was professing his sexuality and his single status through the tracks.  From “SexyBack” to “Until the End of Time,” every song oozed lust and sex appeal. “The 20/20 Experience” is a new phase in Timberlake’s life, for he has already established himself as one of the greatest performers currently in the media’s spotlight. He took his time away from music to dabble in business investments, acting, marriage and even straighten his hair. Now, Timberlake’s making his musical comeback with his reunion with Timbaland to produce “The 20/20 Experience.”

The Tennessee Kids, an energetic big band performing behind Timberlake, definitely transitions him from being seen as a sex symbol on his previous album to a more mature artist now. “That Girl” and “Pusher Love Girl” exemplify the flow of Marvin Gaye and a pitch like Prince in the songs’ smooth, romantic rhythms. “Spaceship Coupe” and “Tunnel Vision” make you forget about the Tennessee Kids because the songs really highlight Timbaland’s history of ‘90s rhythm and blues; the deep, dragging bass line and unique percussions, which sound a lot like some of Aaliyah’s old classics. And for the people who miss sexual Timberlake, check out “Dress On” to make you forget he got married, or “Body Count” to travel back to 2003, when the beats sounded like a lovechild between Britney Spears’ “Me Against The Music” and Timberlake’s “Senorita.”

What the album could have used is a new producer. After a six-year hiatus from the music industry, many expected Timberlake to reinvent himself and update his sound—although a few of the tracks seem like leftover songs that didn’t make the cut in “LoveSounds.” If he wanted to commit to the reinvention with The Tennessee Kids, he should have moved on from Timbaland to allow himself more room to grow. But if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Timberlake and Timbaland may not have been able to outdo their last piece of perfection, but they’re making a splash with the most highly anticipated album of the year. “The 20/20 Experience” is a soulful album with a more romantic flow that will keep people dancing throughout the summer.