JT’s “The 20/20 Experience” album review

Music has launched in a new direction since we last heard from Justin Timberlake on the 2006 “Future Sex/Love Sounds”, but the actor/singer sticks to his original formula and links up with old pal and mega-producer Timbaland. And it worked. Selling 980,000 copies in its debut week, “The 20/20 Experience” has set a feat expected to remain unmatched for the remaining of the year 2013. Timberlake’s vision for his latest work is 20/20 clear and succeeds at not only creating an album but an experience. 

Our experience begins with the harmonious “Pusher Love Girl”. Strings accompany Timberlake’s falsetto on this throwback to R&B; ending with a surprising but refreshing remix that only Timbaland can pull off. Before we’re able to get too relaxed, Timberlake gets us up, out of our seats and on the dance floor with the albums’ first single “Suit and Tie”. With its trumpet flares it adds flavors of Sinatra but tastefully fuses hip-hop, courtesy of Jay-Z, redefining what we call ‘grown and sexy’.

Just in case some of you held up the wall during “Suit and Tie”, Timberlake and Timbaland make their demands next in the dance track “Don’t Hold the Wall”. Complete with high hats, Middle Eastern flare and funky chimes, “Don’t Hold the Wall” is a “Timbo original” and host his organic adlibs. JT mellows out over the next few tracks with Berry White-like adlibs nestled throughout the confessional “Strawberry Bubblegum” and the metaphorical “Tunnel vision”.

If you haven’t gotten a drink by now you will once the smooth but heavy bass lines of “Spaceship Coupe” seep into your ears. Classic piano keys and sultry bass aid Timber in this futuristic swooner. Just when we get comfortable with JT’s new sound, he takes us back to the 50s for a few minutes in “That Girl”. Channeling The Temptations, Timberlake introduces himself and his band as “JT and the Tennessee Kids”. Born in Tennessee, Timberlake jumps at the opportunity here to take things back to his roots and one of the birthplaces of Doo-wop.

Up next is the album’s gem and best showcase of a track that spans cultures and genres: “Let the Groove Get In”. The colorful track flies in tropical drums from South America and the Islands. The bold track brings in Afro-Cuban bongos accompanied with trumpet flares and chimes. Keys, brass and percussion all come together in this brew of sound leaving no one immune to the infectious groove.

A Timberlake album would not be complete without the “tear-jerker” track but he’s come a long way from “Cry me a river.” The newlywed has turned a new leaf and cries out in the name of love in the two remaining tracks. “Mirrors”, Timberlake’s second single, is reminiscent of the “Future Sex/Love Sounds” album and is an anthem for lovers everywhere. But lovers will connect with the ballad of the album, “Blue Ocean Floor”. “Under the water you scream so loud but the silence surrounds you” he cries through a falsetto that’s heart-felt enough to draw tears from a rock.

It’s an experience we’ll want to relive over and over again, moment by moment, tack by track. Thankfully, the experience won’t get a chance to become stale with the release of part 2 of “The 20/20 Experience” set to be released in November.

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