Review Roundup: Justin Timberlake – ‘The 20/20 Experience’

The 20/20 Experience

It’s been over six years since Justin Timberlake released his last album FutureSex/LoveSounds. Since then, the 32-year-old singer has remained focused on his acting career and personal life, marrying Jessica Biel last year.

Now he returns to his first love, music, with his third album, The 20/20 Experience, which can be streamed on iTunes. The Grammy winner reunites with Timbaland, who produced all 10 tracks, while his “Legends of the Summer” tourmate Jay-Z appears on the lead single “Suit & Tie.”

Was it worth the wait? Find out what the critics had to say about J.T.’s comeback.

Rolling Stone: The 20/20 Experience is the biggest pop event of 2013 so far, but it’s not quite a pop album. Its sense of musical space-time is more elastic and sprawling than anything on the radio. 4/5

Entertainment Weekly: The best thing here is “Let the Groove Get In,” which builds from African hand-drum rhythms to a classic Michael Jackson jam, circa Off the Wall. B

USA Today: The driving duo’s basic approach remains one of touching up old-school textures with modern production values. Funky horns and soulful strings are everywhere—acting as rhythm instruments on the effervescent, gorgeously textured “Let the Groove Get In,” which recalls Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones’ giddier classics. 3/4

New York Daily News: He Fred Astaires his way through these tracks, dancing over their melody with the air of an acrobat. It all serves the persona he has adopted and, by now, perfected—a lover able to balance a boyish eagerness with a manly talent. 4/5

People: With lush, layered arrangements—producer Timbaland is again behind the boards—topped off by Timberlake’s falsetto-kissed vocals, this is maybe the best sounding album you’ll hear all year. 4/5

Chicago Sun-Times: Timberlake’s outing is promising, though the full delivery of that promise requires patience and repeated listening. This album’s a grower, not a shower. 2.5/4

Los Angeles Times: But it’s been long enough since he identified as a working musician that The 20/20 Experience feels like an attempt to reclaim Timberlake’s space in a deeply altered landscape; it makes a play for timelessness at a moment of unabashed ephemerality. 3/4

Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Don’t Hold the Wall,” “Let the Groove In,” “Mirrors”

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46 Comments

  1. Danny P

    Entertainment Weekly heard of samba?!! =)) Let the Groove Get In is a samba/tribal track.
    Chicago Sun-Times had right about the album. 1st, I don’t like it at all. Now, I’m in love with tracks: “Don’t Hold the Wall”, “That Girl”, “Let the Groove Get In”, “Mirrors”, “Dress On” and “Body Count”.

    [Reply]

    TIFFANY Reply:

    @Danny P, That girl is my fav. I was kind of hoping for a more “love stoned” vibe but its definitely not a bad album, just IMO lacks something.

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    MILF in a Kilt Reply:

    @Danny P, it’s really not a good album. too production heavy. mirrors doesn’t fit with the other tracks, suit and tie was lame, the long songs are pointless and he’s gonna lose his pop following with such a r&b style record. there are no songs that can be played on top 40. none of these reviews up top even go deep into explaining the album. all of them are safe just give it a good rating with no real resons why. smh

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    ayo Reply:

    @MILF in a Kilt, i agree.

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    thelibrary Reply:

    @MILF in a Kilt, you sound ignorant as hell. too production heavy what the hell does that mean? he won’t lose any following because this album is gold, he’s essentially used his voice to make the album sound pop whilst working with the beats. if you think that none of these songs can be played on radio is also misinformed. they both said they would work out radio edits later, suit & tie had one didn’t it and was top 5. and @ayo you obviously know fuck all agreeing.

    smh indeed.

    [Reply]

    Kameron86 Reply:

    @thelibrary, Too production heavy means that the sound relies too much on the work and sounds created by the producers and not enough on that of the artist. It can also refer to the overabundance of beats, synthesized sounds, and unnecessary multi-layered rhythms that add to the dissonance of an already-lacking vocal presentation.

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    KaramelKisses Reply:

    @MILF in a Kilt, “there are no songs that can be played in the top 40″ yet both suit & tie and mirrors are in the top 40. suit & tie hit a million downloads 2 weeks ago … so what are you talking about. you do realize that for radio play the songs released as singles will be shortened like every other artists songs. you are just reaching which confuses me because if you don’t like justin or his music, why comment on a blog posting about justin’s pending album? #toomuchtimeonyourhands

    [Reply]

    Marcia Reply:

    @MILF in a Kilt, You obviously aren’t listening to this album with an open mind. That or you’re just an ignorant dope who can’t analyze the lyrics.

    [Reply]

    listen Reply:

    @Danny P, right, this is what happens when those same publications want to get an interview with justin. i haven’t heard the album, but i can tell the chicago review is probably most accurate.

    [Reply]

  2. Morgan

    For me, the album’s slow tracks are its highlights. “Let The Groove Get In” is the only one I don’t like at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll grow on me as the MJ vibe is undeniable. I’ll be purchasing the deluxe edition. Reviews are on point, for the most part. Generally favorable feedback is nothing short of what I anticipated for JT.

    [Reply]

  3. #BEENTRILL

    Chicago Sun-Times sit down… The album is incredible only one song I can’t jell with and thats “blue ocean floor” its a good song but I clicked straight away with the others.

    [Reply]

  4. coco

    Love the indian flute/drum sample in ‘Dont hold the wall’. Reminds me of Timbo’s ‘Indian Flute’ song from yearrrrs ago!
    I feel like i’m the only one who doesn’t like ‘Mirrors’?! lol. I only like the second half of it.

    [Reply]

    The Marvelous Mind of J-Tizzle! | “Lemme Rock Yo Body, Bitch.” Reply:

    @coco, Yeah. This was basically Timbo’s album featuring me.

    [Reply]

  5. h2o

    the album is great. let the groove get in does have an mj feel from the off the wall album. I’m glad he didn’t just revert to the current trend of pop music that David guetta sound.I hope others follow suit and refind their sound.

    [Reply]

  6. Yasmine

    The doubters have been raising hell so I’m pleased to see Justin get critical acclaim. He’s def gonna be met with great commercial response.

    About the bonus tracks, “Dress On” is fire and “Body Count” is pretty good.

    [Reply]

    Ursula Reply:

    @Yasmine, What does that have to do with the quality of the music? Critics and commercial response can’t help a bunch of disoriented sounds and out of pitch falsettos.

    [Reply]

    Jayla Reply:

    @Ursula, Why you so mad? majority likes it so i guess your opinion is just that, your opinion.

    [Reply]

  7. Quinn

    What’s Jon B up to lately? He and JT hold it down us lol

    [Reply]

  8. nick

    Let the groove get in is the albums savior

    [Reply]

  9. Abz

    Most of the songs are just perff! The slow ones will have to grow on me but other than that; just perfect!

    [Reply]

  10. @$ylarjames

    TIMBODAKING !!!!!!!! f critics just shut up and listen !!!!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Jstamir Reply:

    @@$ylarjames, Co sing

    [Reply]

  11. D. Kellz

    I love the album and I love spaceship coupe, pusher love girl, suit & tie, that girl, strawberry bubblegum, don’t hold the wall and a few more tracks I basically give this album a B+ myself and I just love spaceship coupe I’ve played that song over and over. JT always gives a smooth pop and R&B feel to his albums which I always liked about him. So this is good and has a great sound to it.

    [Reply]

  12. mumi

    a grower, not a shower. That describes it perfectly.

    [Reply]

  13. Rich

    It’s fantastic album that is superbly produced I think justin vocals are amazing on this album!

    [Reply]

  14. Liam

    Moonshine Jungle Tour & Legends of the Summer Tour …. can’t wait!!!!!

    [Reply]

  15. The Marvelous Mind of J-Tizzle! | “Lemme Rock Yo Body, Bitch.”

    Thanks for all the love guys!

    Truthfully the album was 99.9% Timbaland, .1% Timberlake. But don’t hate.

    [Reply]

  16. Monkeyman

    Timberland SHUT IT DOWN on the beats. That album is FIRE!!!!

    [Reply]

    Jstamir Reply:

    @Monkeyman, Thank u

    [Reply]

  17. Jstamir

    Fackoff erbody this album is wat music misses . Less fast-food bublle gum shit same $ same ass . this is a modern classic . Listen carefully . This Timbaland is the best fckin producer alive period

    [Reply]

  18. CHRIS

    I’m not too bothered about this album. Thought I would be when I first heard he was making a comeback; then I heard Suit & Tie.
    It’s not a bad song but for some reason it just put me off him.
    Then Mirrors came out. I really hate the song. It’s not bad but it’s not my taste and to me it sounds like his old stuff.
    I just don’t know tbh…

    [Reply]

    aton Reply:

    @CHRIS, I kind of understand what you mean. I’ve never been that big on JT but Suit & Tie caught my attention because of the retro sound, and then Pusher Love Girl really peaked my interest back when he performed it. When I listened to this album, I was at first disappointed because most of it sounds like a more grown up version of his first album. Only Suit and Tie, Pusher Love Girl and That Girl have that drastic retro sound that I thought would populate the whole album. BUT, this is still a well put together album, Tunnel Vision and Dont Hold the wall are incredible. But Im not fond of mirrors either because it sounds kind of dated, but I think when your as big of an artist as he is you have to cater to different facets of your fan base, so I understand the format of this album.

    [Reply]

  19. Miszi

    It’s really great. I love “Strawberry Bubblegum” the most. I just wish there were some more uptempo tracks.

    [Reply]

  20. Mr. Fye

    The album just wasnt that great to me.

    [Reply]

  21. Eric

    Timberlake is overrated. How the hell can he compare himself to Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, and Bob Dylan? He has officially lost his mind.

    [Reply]

    Heather Reply:

    @Eric, “Overrated” artists don’t win Grammys, have great sales and avoid being blasted by the critics. And clearly, you like him otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

    [Reply]

    ayo Reply:

    @Heather, many overrated artists are very successful. just look at taylor swift.

    [Reply]

    CoolieJ Reply:

    @Heather,

    Girl that’s not true at all. lol

    [Reply]

    thelibrary Reply:

    @Eric, he didn’t compare himself to them he said that if they can do 10-minute long songs why can’t he, not that he was comparable to them.

    [Reply]

  22. Mark

    Suit and Tie is a very good track. It reminds me of old school music for adults, not children who enjoy the pop crap that is presented as music.

    The album is quite eclectic. It can’t be defined by one style and i think it’s representative of someone who is grown up with many different preferences in music. I can identify with it because I too enjoy differente genres of music, so it’s a very good album in that respect. It’s not the typical radio hits type of album, but a grown up music that you savor like wine

    [Reply]

    KaramelKisses Reply:

    @Mark, Very well said and I totally agree. Justin has always said that while growing up in Memphis he listed to everyone from Stevie Wonder to Led Zepplin. So if you think you’re going to listen to The 20/20 Experience and get “bubble gum pop” or “eurotrash pop” you are sadly mistaken. In my opinion Justin has done it again, while other artists are waving the current trend of whatever it takes to get a #1 single this dude went completely left … thank you! Sorry, tricks are for kids and The 20/20 Experience is for the grown & sexy.

    [Reply]

    Paige Reply:

    @Mark, I completely agree!

    [Reply]

  23. Rap-Up.com || Justin Timberlake Visits ’106 & Park’

    [...] on the couch with Bow Wow to discuss his third album The 20/20 Experience, which has been receiving rave reviews. The episode airs [...]

  24. mica

    His live performances of the songs on Jimmy Fallon have been amazing.

    [Reply]

  25. wins

    the album is a masterpiece….in love with tunnel vision,let the groove get in and spaceship coupe.blue ocean floor is the onli track iam not feeling but hopefully in time will fall in love with it

    [Reply]

  26. mrsotw

    bye bye justin beiber -Timberlakes back

    [Reply]

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