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Music Review: 'The 20/20 Experience' by Justin Timberlake

By Nicholas Hautman Staff Writer

It’s been six and a half years since the release of Justin Timberlake’s last studio album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds”; the album that gave us “My Love,” “What Goes Around... Comes Around,” and, of course, “SexyBack.” When “LoveSounds” was released, Rihanna only had two albums out and she now has seven; Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston were still alive; and no one had heard the names Justin Bieber, Adele or Lady Gaga. Basically, it’s been six very, very long years.

For his third studio album, entitled “The 20/20 Experience”, Timberlake is back with 10 brand new songs, 12 if you purchase the deluxe edition from Target, and they’re not what you might expect. This album will bring out the true Timberlake fans, and filter out the “Rock Your Body”-esque dance tracks. “The 20/20 Experience” is slower but more mature than any other Top 40 album currently on the Billboard charts. Most of the songs are between six and eight minutes long, a turnoff for Top 40 listeners.

The album opens with “Pusher Love Girl,” a big-band track that is filled with drug-related metaphors “So high I’m on the ceiling, baby/Go on and be my dealer, baby”. Next comes “Suit & Tie,” the album’s explosive first single that is sure to come up at ever stop of Timberlake and Jay-Z’s tour this July.

The CD also includes two tribal-themed songs: “Don’t Hold the Wall” and my personal favorite, “Let the Groove Get In,” which sounds as though it belongs on Michael Jackson’s 1979 album, “Off the Wall”. The album’s second single, “Mirrors,” is an epic ballad written by Timberlake in honor of his wife, actress Jessica Biel. The song is very reminiscent production-wise to Timberlake’s hit “Cry Me a River.” However the difference in lyrics, particularly the optimism, is really evident. A few songs are stylistically futuristic, including “Spaceship Coupe” and the album’s transcendent closer, “Blue Ocean Floor”.

All in all, “The 20/20 Experience” is actually great after a few thorough listens. It isn’t traditional radio pop, which is a breath of fresh air after the past few years where overproduced dance tracks took over every radio station. The album is an incredible showcase of Timberlake’s artistry.

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