REVIEW: Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

The Trousersnake is back and, given the marathon length of the tracks on this album, boy is he making sure we all know it. 

The first two releases divided the PressPLAY office (some thought Suit & Tie was far superior to Mirrors, upon which other members threatened to quit… probably on account of being wrong). The 20/20 Experience pops along with a cover that looks like a Wachowski steampunk abortion and, as much as it pains us to say this, doesn’t sound too far off that description. 

The album kicks off with Pusher Lover Girl, with Timbers banging on about being a junkie. It’s pretty standard R&B fare, followed by the exquisite Suit & Tie which is still the perfect silken vehicle for that inimitable voice. You don’t even need to look at the album credits to know that Don’t Hold the Wall is a Timbaland joint – sadly more a reflection that his style hasn’t really evolved in the years since the last JT album. Strawberry Bubblegum passes by with eye-rolling euphemistic blandness (“Don’t ever change your flavour/ cos I love the taste”) and a calypso coda that no one really asked for. 

Tunnel Vision could well be the next release, pulsing with a spiky drum beat, before Spaceship Coupe surprises absolutely no one by being as ridiculous as it sounds. “Hop into my spaceship coupe/ there’s only room for two/ me and you” – groundbreaking, truly. 

Let the Groove Get In is where Timberlake properly gives us the rampant, sexy party we’ve been waiting for. By far the highlight of the album, it’s so corkingly Miami Sound Machine you half-expect Gloria Estefan to join in. Unquantifiable madness in the best way. 

But you barely needed to get halfway through the album to have realised what the two-fold problem is. One, there aren’t really any actual *singles* here, barring the excellent Let the Groove Get In. Secondly, Timberlake must have been spending too much time in Hollywood, as every song suffers from the Scorsese/Tarantino hangover of being just too long. You’re not pitching for an Oscar, love. 

While it is nice to have Timbers back on the scene, the payoff here is just far too disproportionate to the wait. Ironically for an album called The 20/20 Experience, there’s very little retrospect on what made his catalogue so damn good. There’s nothing even remotely close to Rock Your Body, Like I Love You, SexyBack, Senorita, or even Cry Me a River. 

It’s a more grown-up Timberlake, for sure, but a little bit lacking in the sort of cuts that would make us want to pin down the nearest object and start making endless love to it. Our 20/20 experience says spare us the indulgence next time, pet.