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REVIEW: Timberlake’s ’20/20 Experience’ clearly meets hype

Far removed from his days as a teen heartthrob as a member of *NSYNC, Justin Timberlake has matured musically.

And no one seems to be complaining about it.

Seven years since the release of Timberlake’s last album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” JT returns to music with his excessively anticipated new album. Hit single “Suit & Tie” was just a small taste of the unique sounds Timberlake creates in “The 20/20 Experience,” the newest Timberlake/Timbaland concoction which doesn’t fail to meet the hype.

The album starts with a preview of the unexpected sound of the entire album. The first track, “Pusher Love Girl,” begins with a symphonic arrangement of violins before moving into a slow beat reminiscent of a R&B love song. Timberlake doesn’t hold back in his first track and lets his vocal range loose with his patented falsetto notes. The track’s extended drug metaphor also leads to some interesting yet entirely relatable lyrics.

Following the big band influences in “Suit & Tie” and “That Girl,” “Don’t Hold The Wall” strays from theme with exotic instruments and background vocals permeating the song. It’s a perfect example of Timbaland’s incredible production skills and Timberlake’s affinity for unique sounds and instruments. Lyrically, it has all the potential to be a dance anthem, but is longer and slower than what most clubs will play. There is, however, a great potential for a club mix.

“Let The Groove Get In” is by far the catchiest track on the album – yes, even catchier than “Suit & Tie.” With trumpets, maracas and a percussion background that could make even the most stubborn person dance, it’s clear that this is the best song on the album, with “Mirrors” as the only possible exception.

Longtime Timberlake fans will love “Mirrors.” The track is a serious throwback to the *NSYNC days, but in the best way imaginable. It’s a grown up version of the hits of the late 90’s and early 2000’s that’s unfailingly catchy and earnest at the same time. This older sound, combined with Timberlake’s new love of violins and now-mature perspective on love, makes this a truly incredible pop love song.

The final track of 20/20, “Blue Ocean Floor,” is a beautiful song full of atmospheric soundscapes and Timberlake’s melancholy vocals. It’s a great way to end an album already filled with strong, varied tracks.

While the quality of Timberlake’s new album isn’t doubted, It will be interesting to see the kind of radio play the tracks of “The 20/20 Experience” will receive. Only two songs are under six minutes in length, which is a very unusual phenomenon for such a prominent pop artist.

There’s no doubt this album will get exposure and produce multiple hits, but they may have to be club or radio mixes instead of predominantly seven-minute originals. Fans won’t be complaining about the length though. None of the tracks ever get repetitive or boring from their length, but they definitely don’t fit a typical radio play pattern.

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