Release Year: 2013
When Justin Timberlake announced earlier this year he would be making a return to music everyone couldn’t wait to see what he would. Needless to say it was a success. Then he revealed he would be doing it again this year and people weren’t sure how to feel. We all wanted new music from Justin eventually but did we really need it so soon? The answer seems to be no, we did not. With this album he recreated his sophomore album, which didn’t go over well with most fans. There are some good songs here, but forgettable tracks, absurd lyrics, and songs that are way too long keep this from being a good album.
The album Timberlake released early in the year took influences from several different styles, including pop, soul, funk, and r&b. These mixes made it a pretty well rounded album, which found the singer trying out different things in both his music and his singing. Here, he reverts back to the hip-hop and r&b sound that dominated his second release. While it’s not a terrible thing, it really narrows the sound of the album and without much variety of music not only do the songs begin to sound the same, but the tracks that go beyond this sound don’t seem to fit on the record at all.
The album starts off pretty strong with a number of catchy songs. The opening track “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)” has a cool sleek r&b and funk infused sound that gets you moving. With Justin singing “Take me to your jungle/I’m not afraid” it’ll easily get stuck in your head. The animal motif is kind of weird, but otherwise fits in well that is until we hit the four minute mark. For some reason Justin didn’t learn his lesson about lengthy songs from the previous release. This is where the track should’ve ended, but instead listeners are greeted with various animal noises and a weird warbled spoken word part that’s not only distracting, but makes the entire thing cheesy as hell.
The next track “True Blood” is kind of one of those so bad it’s good songs because it’s pretty corny. The music here is great and fun to dance to. It’s a great mix of r&b, funk, and electronic music that’s hard to deny, but it’s the content of the song that makes it questionable. If you couldn’t guess from the title this is about a hot vampire. Let that sink in for a minute. Justin wrote a song about a dying trend. It’s not the most terrible thing he could do, but it really dates the song. Again, the length is too long clocking in at almost ten minutes during which he makes it clear that this is supposed to be his “Thriller” track. There are random wolf howls, “spooky” noises, and a pseudo creepy laugh in the same vein as the famous Michael Jackson song. This isn’t the only place where Timberlake happily borrows from the King of Pop.
We all know Justin loves Michael Jackson and for “Take Back the Night” he admitted it was influenced by the late singer. I think what he meant to say was he ripped it off from Jackson. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great song, probably the best on the record because it’s the classic fun, danceable Timberlake we know and love, but you can’t deny that this sounds like something Jackson recorded in the 1970’s. With the overall funk sound and big horns that come in, it sounds like something you would find on Off the Wall; it has the vintage 70’s disco sound that’s meant to get you on the dancefloor. This isn’t where Jackson’s influences end. During the bridge with the horns Justin says “Take it over, yeah.” This part made me stop the song. Where did I hear that before? Right, Jackson exclaimed it during “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground).” Nice try, Justin. Either way it’s a fun song and one that shows he knows how to create great pop songs.
While there are quite a few catchy songs here most of them are not memorable. “Cabaret” has a great vibe, but has ridiculous lyrics that compare sex to a show. I’m also sure there’s one part where he compares his lady friend to stripper: “She wanna break it down for me like she tryna get some paper.” Even worse Drake is featured here. I don’t understand why he’s so popular because he sounds like he hasn’t blown his nose in a month. Plus, his rap comes across as dumb and uninspired, but the song is still pretty catchy. “TKO” starts off odd with Timbaland saying “Kill me with the coo-coochie-coochie-coo.” I’m not sure what this means, but it sounds nasty. Also, the music here is so loud and booming it sounds like one of those awful rap songs you hear vibrating cars that drive down your street and even though “Murder” is filled with hooks, the lyrics are confusing with music that sounds like it was stolen from Missy Elliot’s “Get Your Freak On.” It’s at this point you begin to wonder why the album isn’t over yet. By the time you get to the faux sentimental “You Got it On” you don’t care anymore. Everything sounds the same and the songs are so long that they’re easy to tune out and forget.
Overall, the album gets 7/10. I have no idea why Timberlake thought people missed him so much that giving us two album in one year would be doing everyone a favor. If anything it seems like an excuse to not release new music for another seven years. While there are some good tracks here none of them are standout or great as the ones found on his previously released album. If anything, with the hip-hop influenced music and all the songs about sex it sounds too much like his underwhelming second album. Maybe if he would’ve taken a couple of years to work on these songs it would’ve been better. Otherwise, this album is entirely unnecessary.