JT: "The 20/20 Experience: Part 1" Album Review

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Justin. Timberlake. You must have thought the iconic triple threat was done melting your heart away with his sensual falsetto, killer pop hooks, Mila Kunis flirtin’, and Jackson-esque moves. Think again. Instead of seeing 20/20, I’m pretty sure I had straight eagle vision when I listened to this record for the first time (20/15, if you were wondering). This record has helped kick in 2013 to where it should be.  JT has managed to incorporate his poppy ways into worldly rhythms, while also being accompanied by an incredible orchestra: (JT) & The Tennessee Kids. I’ve always found it unbelievable how music can be transposed and performed with many different instruments, no matter the genre. The horn section backing up JT is particularly phenomenal, as well as a silky smooth string section.  But enough about the technicalities – lets get onto taking a look at the album.

The album opens up with a track called “Pusher Love Girl,” where Timberlake introduces you to his creamy falsetto. And oh by the way, Spoiler alert, Miguel & Frank Ocean, he’s making you guys look bad. The orchestra builds up, the organ and snyths kicks in, and you know you’re in for a journey. “All I want is you babe..” – JT. Honestly, If I were a girl, I’d be pretty pumped.

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JT collaborated with Jay-Z for the hit single, “Suit & Tie.”  When they debuted it at the Grammy’s, I knew they were going places.  For a minute, though, I thought I was watching a '70s short. This song continues a popular trend of 20/20: having an unbelievable rhythm section. After all, JT comes from a pop background where the five members of NSYNC were always moving; he knows how to move to the music.

On “Don’t Hold The Wall,” and “Let the Groove In,” JT used very interesting worldly samples. It seems these songs were influenced from pseudo-Indian and Afro-beats, and it almost feels like you're watching Slum Dog Millionaire on the chorus of, “Don’t Hold The Wall.” For those who still love the NSYNC 5-part harmony ordeal (i.e. myself), he still hasn’t lost that touch. JT syncopates his lyrics, uses hip-hoppy loops, call and response techniques, while combining it with violin. This truly is Future Sex, Love Sounds: I don’t know what he made 6 years ago.

imagesDue to the fact that the average song is almost 7 minutes long, the way he transitions between verses is immaculate. JT uses key changes, call & responses, vibrato, and even some Steve Miller-esque spacey/trippy effects. His guitarist sounds like Brian May of Queen at points, as melodic guitar solos are rightfully taken in “Spaceship Coupe.” Groovy guitar lines are also used in “That Girl,” and the opening track “Pusher Love Girl,” as well.

But what really matters is that you can always count on JT to end a song on a building harmony (1, 3, 5), adding the 7 at the end just to make it sound that much spicier. The various beatbox breakdowns show us he hasn’t lost his pop and hip-hop origins, but the various orchestrations he uses shows us he’s growing as a musician. Look out for this upcoming World Tour -- it is going down hard.

-Jake Perlmutter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XzPrLEaaMk