Whoever thought that co-lead singer from 'N Sync would end up being one of the most respected pop stars of our time? Back in the day, Justin Timberlake was just one of five other tackily dressed and tressed kids that made up what was then just a Backstreet Boys rip-off. They were just as good as BSB, but not really on anyone's radar (outside of the teen girl set) until No Strings Attached sold 2.4 million in its first week, while also taking the band to a much catchier level, getting the attention of men as well as women. Even back then though, my solo success money would have been on the better-looking JC Chasez, not the macaroni-haired other one. What do I know?
Another album later and 'N Sync was over and JT broke out with a fantastic solo album and an even better second album. Coupled with his breakout appearances on SNL and some fine acting turns, Timberlake was taking over the globe and our hearts. However, post FutureSounds, he announced he was taking a long time off from music to concentrate on acting and his personal life. He left us fans of his music on a HUGE high note, but six years later, he's surprisingly back without much notice with a fantastic new album, The 20/20 Experience.
Much of the buzz about the album so far has been vacillating between confusion and indifference for his first two singles, "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay Z, and "Mirrors," neither of which are as easily poppy as his past efforts, much in the same way the last two Missy Elliot tracks have been received. You're gone that long, folks expect the Second Coming, I guess.
Well now that The 20/20 Experience is out there for review (in stores by the day this issue hits shelves), those puzzlingly subtle two singles make total sense. "20/20" is all about a full-album experience hearkening back to mid-period Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye. Only two of the 10 album tracks are under five minutes, with the longest at 8:05. Each piece is a mood or seduction that takes at least that long to grow on you, and all work best when listened to as a full unit, not as singles like "Suit" or "Mirrors." Within the context of "20/20" those songs shine brighter.
For those who are still looking for strong tracks as hope there's more to his new CD, look to the Stylistics sampling, Prince-heavy "Spaceship Coupe," or the standout cross between Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" and Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Starting Something," "Let the Groove Get In," which I predict will be your new Summer Jam. Well, at least I'll be playing it at every DJ set this year, so get to know it. In fact, get to know all of "20/20." It's a keeper.
Moose spins tons of 'N Sync and all their contemporaries March 29 at Mary's Attic for Millennial Pop Explosion: Boy Bands vs. Girl Pop.