Justin was already a star during his Nsync days, but ever since he started his solo career he’s become larger than life. His solo debut was great and his releases last year were satisfying. The same can’t be said for his second LP. While there are some awesome tracks here to get you dancing, many of them are uninspired, dull, and too damn long (an issue Timberlake still hasn’t fixed). The record is all over the place and can never seem to find it’s footing, which makes for a disappointing album.
If you couldn’t tell from the title, the theme of this album is sex. He already covered the topic on his previous effort, but here he goes even further. Though he tries to be sensual on “Futuresex/Lovesound” he ends up sounding like a creepo when he sings “daddy’s on a mission to please.” He keeps trying to be sexy by repeating the song title in a robotic voice; it’s clearly not working. On “Sexy Ladies” he brags about how many women he has going crazy for him. This topic gets a little boring after a while, especially since Timberlake approaches it in a cliché manner, but the track where he pulls it off the best is “Sexy Back.” The bass heavy music and the weird distorted vocals make the song infectious. It also doesn’t hurt that singing “I’m bringing sexy back” is really fun to say. It’s a stand out single because it sounded like nothing else he had done at the time.
“My Love” is another strong track from the album. The music continues with the heavy bass and throws in a synth/electronic based riff that sticks in your head. Here, Justin tries out his falsetto and it’s okay. I’ve definitely heard better, but I’ve also heard worse. While the song has a great hook and is pretty good overall things get iffy when T.I. comes in. His rap is so unnecessary and to make it worse it’s pretty boring. The song would’ve been just fine without it. “Lovestoned” is a great dance track with its disco flavor and funk driven rhythm to get you moving. It’s a really fun, upbeat track, but after the four minute mark you want it to end. It goes on for a total of seven minutes for no good reason. This same problem is found on his later efforts. When will Justin learn making songs longer than they need to be don’t make them better.
“What Goes Around” has never been my favorite Timberlake song. The Middle Eastern inspired riff is interesting and the low key music is enjoyable, but it just doesn’t pop like some of his other songs. The end of a bad relationship vibe of the track makes you think of “Cry Me a River,” though it’s not as effective. The pleasant “Summer Love” sounds like an old hip-hop song filled with lots of synth that catches your attention. The song is vibrant, upbeat, and really catchy. It makes you feel good like a Justin Timberlake song should. The thing that ruins it is yet another prelude attached at the end. This happens several times throughout the album making the original track longer. These preludes are supposed to introduced the next song, but they are boring and pointless.
The one song that is just flat out bad is “Chop Me Up.” Since it features really heavy beats and Three 6 Mafia, it ends up sounding like one of their rap songs. Justin even attempts to rap and sounds like a poor man’s T.I. During the chorus, there are moments when a distorted voice sings part of it and it makes you think of a bad voice over. The whole thing comes off phony and really disrupts the flow of the album. It’s all r&b and pop dance songs until you get to this. It just doesn’t fit in. “Losing my Way” sticks out for the wrong reasons. On a record mainly about sex and love Justin decides to talk about a man who has lost everything because of his addiction to crack. While it means well it doesn’t fit at all. Plus, a choir comes on at the end and adds a whole layer of cheesiness to it. Sorry Justin, I’m not buying it.
Even though it has some great songs, the album gets 7/10. The record is all over the place. Sometimes it stays on the r&b and pop vibe, while other times it strays into different genres Justin has no business being in. This is also where the singer got the idea that ten minutes songs are okay. So many of the tracks have a five minute prelude attached at the end and it’s baffling to understand what they’re supposed to add to the album. When the songs aren’t dull and repetitive, they end up being so cheesy your eyes will pop out of your head from rolling them too much. It’s a shame because there are some great, fun tracks here, but the rest of it doesn’t hold up. At least Justin did better for his third release.