Justin Timberlake’s ‘The 20/20 Experience’: Review Revue (Part II)
“Suit & Tie.” “Mirrors.” The Grammys. The BRITs. Saturday Night Live. Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. South By Southwest. All of this has brought us to March 19 — a date we’ve known since earlier this year as the day Justin Timberlake officially knocks the dust off his pretty much six-years dormant music career and releases his third solo LP, The 20/20 Experience.
The album isn’t a mystery at this point; it was made available to stream on iTunes eight days ago. And some critics have already weighed in with their reviews of JT’s comeback LP. (Did you read our own assessment?) So what we’ve gathered below is another bundle of reactions the Internet had to 20/20, now that the thing is finally out there for the masses to consume and dissect.
:: The Detroit Free Press calls the album “nearly perfect” while offering this: “It’s hard to think of another performer who can make a seven-minute track continuously engaging and refreshing, especially at a time when a five-minute song screams “problem” for radio stations and our attention span gets shorter with every tweet or text.”
:: Pitchfork says The 20/20 Experience “has Timberlake seamlessly conflating the last 40 years of pop, soul, and R&B into a series of warping seven-minute songs that shamelessly extol the joys of music and marriage. More ambitious and judicious than his first album, Justified, and more consistent than 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, the record mixes up not only genres and traditional song structures, but entire critical value systems.”
:: VIBE thinks the album fits like a nicely-tailored suit and…well, you know: “Forget the edginess and urgency of FutureSex/LoveSounds, the best pop album of this generation. This time, the tailored Tom Ford suit’s worn in. It fits, it’s a staple, and people craving something fresher always think it’s too safe. Where FutureSex felt like change, this just feels good.”
Consequence Of Sound points at the long transition JT has made from his early days: “The curly Mouseketeer is transformed into a suave Mad Man and there has been nary a one-liner about it. Like a certain martini-swilling exec, he’s just as uncompromising on 20/20, with songs that run a cool eight minutes long, stacked with every Afrobeat musician he could find on ‘Let The Groove In’, a title that doubles as the album’s raison d’etre. 20/20 succeeds because it’s groove-based, which is to say, it’s neither pop-based nor logic-based.”
:: Stereogum is feeling very connected to the LP: “‘Suit & Tie’ aside, 20/20 doesn’t beg or demand to be liked. It’s content to unfurl in the background, its luxuriant intros and outros pushing song lengths north of six minutes, sprawling out on its own unhurried rhythms. It sounds like being happy in love, with nowhere to go an nothing to do. And if that sounds boring to you, then I submit to you that maybe you don’t know what that emotional place feels like.”
:: The A.V. Club gives Timberlake an A for effort: “As evidenced by the album’s self-classification as an ‘experience,’ 20/20 is a statement album, one that succeeds more often than it fails, but occasionally buckles under the weight of its ambition, which is grander that its flimsy thematic contents are capable of sustaining over the long haul. And at 70 minutes, this record is indeed a long haul, albeit a dependably entertaining one.”
:: On the flip side, Concrete Loop feels let down: “In all honesty, this album sounded like a compilation of songs that didn’t make the cut on his last album FutureSex/LoveSounds. I really felt like I had been waiting for this great Christmas gift (for almost 7 years) and was given a pair of socks, a $25 gift card to Cracker & Barrel and a holiday card saying, ‘Happy Holidays!’ Come on, JT!”
:: Idolator’s own Kathy Iandoli sums it with this on Hip Hop DX: “The 20/20 Experience should have a bite as equal as its bark. It doesn’t; but it’s still damn good.”