It’s been impossible to play another record since Justin Timberlake‘s The 20/20 Experience started streaming on iTunes last week, a full seven days prior to its official release. Its infectious infusion of the best of pop, soul and R&B is like the bait on the end of a fishing rod. You sniff around it for a bit before eventually deciding that you want the soulful nourishment. Then, before you know it, you’re hooked with no escape route in sight, but you’re too busy taking in the way the album chronicles the highs and lows of falling in love to care.
For 10 tracks, JT gives his all through an ode directed towards the two seemingly most important people in his life: wife Jessica Biel and Timbaland. Instead of the songs’ seven minute average boring the microwave generation used to 140 characters and being “on to the next” within two minutes, the lengthy songs compact two varied sounds without straying into the territory of a mashup that sounds like two different tracks. “Pusher Love Girl,” which likens his love to a junkie’s obsession with drugs, masterfully embodies a bluesy symphony without invoking actual blues. While the first half focuses on the soft melodies the ending hones in on the bass making it more hip-pop.
Like its lead single “Suit and Tie” indicated, JT makes two-step music. The entire album is dance appropriate, but it’s “Don’t Hold the Wall” and “Let the Groove In” that are the obvious dance floor grooves, the former relying heavily on its Indian inspiration and the latter pulsating Soca. Both balance out the album as a whole project but are the weakest of the bunch. Speaking of weak, one would expect a cliche such as “Strawberry Bubblegum” to fall flat. His smooth falsettos coupled with light synths make it almost cute to hear a grown man referring to a grown woman as his strawberry bubblegum. With its blaring horns, envisioning the southern bred singer howl “Strawberry Bubblegum” on stage at a small juke joint on Bill Street is not far fetched.