wed 24/04/2024

CD: Justin Timberlake - 20/20 Experience | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Justin Timberlake - 20/20 Experience

CD: Justin Timberlake - 20/20 Experience

A rich man's folly, but is it the Taj Mahal or Trump Towers?

20/20 experience - you have to smoke a LOT of weed to be this literal.

You really don't need the context on this, do you? Event album, comeback, cheesy title, blah blah – it's all there splattered all over the internet if you really want it. I'll just cut to the chase and say: I love Justin Timberlake's music, and I'm very, very relieved to say I love this album, for a number of reasons. And rather than try and analyse anything too much, I'll just list them.

  1. It doesn't try too hard. There's nothing that explodes in your face with hyper-pop orgasms like "Cry me a River" or "Sexy Back", and neither should there be. This wouldn't be dignified for a movie star, keen golfer and dubiously successful internet entrepeneur. This is a rich man's folly for Timberlake and his long time production collaborator Timbaland: a folly of the best possible sort, one that sprawls and enjoys itself without any overt effort to be anything it's not.

  2. It's not modern. Yes, there are plenty of digital tricks in the production, the odd kick drum that hints at the latest hip hop styles, some tweaks that craftily nod to new electronica, but really the touchstones here are Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Miami Sound Machine, Shuggie Otis... and Timbaland's own past – particularly on the wonderful “Tunnel Vision”, the framework for which could have been dug up from his sessions with the late Aaliyah, rather than the ghastly over-pumped nonsense he's made for the likes of Katy Perry recently.

  3. It's a drug record. Never mind the obviousness of the lyrics of “Pusher Girl” and “Strawberry Bubblegum” (which reels off a number of varieties of high-grade marijuana in its cute chorus and lays on thick the hoary old weed/girl metaphors), the whole album is a stoner indulgence par excellence. These are long tracks with silly switches and cheeky melodies that just radiate people having a LOT of fun in the studio. “Hop into my spaceship coupe, girl?” Yeah, right Justin. It must be nice to be rich enough and comfortable enough to smoke that much and just feel luxurious and relaxed with it.

  4. You need time to enjoy it. The breakthrough moment for me was when I imagined playing some of these tracks in a pub DJ set at 8pm on a Sunday. That is precisely the time when eight minute psychedelic soul tracks are called for, when “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, Labelle's “Moonshadow”, Shuggie Otis's “Strawberry Letter 23” can be played in full and their detail enjoyed as it should be. And these tracks would fit in perfectly. In fact, I really look forward to playing them in that context.

  5. It keeps getting better. I'm on my eighth listen now, and I like it more now than on the seventh. Including bonus tracks that's nearly 10 hours out of my week, and I'm not bored: quite the opposite in fact. This indulgence is one that's really, really worth sharing. A great record.

'Hop into my spaceship coupe, girl?' Yeah, right Justin.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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