JT: Not in a rush, but girl, so ready to marry you.
Justin Timberlake | Let the Groove In
Justin Timberlake | Don’t Hold the Wall
Justin Timberlake | Dress On [Bonus Track]
Hiatus. Jessica Biel. Rapping/Acting. Generally, Timberlake needs to be given the right ideas to work with. Luckily for him, (half of) this album contains some of Timbaland‘s better work in a decade, where Tim has once again managed to unleash his inner orangutan on us. Whether his trademark zigzagging strings and congo-bongos are good enough to carry the other half of the album is still a question mark: While not totally without merit, that half is an indulgent mess, and does not warrant the 7+ mins of pandering (that only work when the songs are indubitably hot). ‘Spaceship Coup’ sounds like a b-grade the-Dream tribute, its plinking keys unable to hide the flaws in Timberlake’s writing. “Ocean Floor”, the fleeting and dare-to-be-different closer, is as bad as “Hi, my name is Bob“, catching Timbaland totally out of his element.
The good half here however, sounds like big-band post-rnb honed to a frenzy — a cerebral basket of rhythm & sound, or (wait for it) the streets of Cuba: “Let the Groove in” is a ridiculous carnival ride that slips into sublime segue of primetime MJ. “Don’t Hold the Wall” is equal parts “Slap! Slap! Slap!”, Jannel Monae swag and Ms Jade era Timbo. “Suit & Tie” is sly & measured, its seemingly placid advances slowly creeping on you. “Mirrors” is a catchy song ruined by saccharine production, intent on resetting the clock back half a decade. “Tunnel Vission” goes on forever — in a good way this time.
But “Dress On” and its heady synthline buzz (which sounds like a bee stuck inside a broken heater), might be the hottest thing on this record: It’s a deep, deep groove, one that find JT is at his most unaffectedly loverboy, and Timbo rappin better than Jay-Z. In 2013, the latter is admittedly not that hard to do, but the former — is anyone’s guess.