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First impressions: Justin Timberlake's '20/20 Experience'

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 9:26am

Justin Timberlake made us wait almost seven years before releasing a new album, and now that he has our attention, he's going to take his time.

His 10-track, roughly 70-minute record, "The 20/20 Experience," was made available as a free stream on iTunes Monday night, a week ahead of its official release date.

The first impression reviews haven't deemed it a perfect disc, but the resounding response is positive. Mr. Timberlake can certainly feel good about his much anticipated return.

The 32-year-old is in a different place from his last album, "FutureSex/LoveSounds," as he's not only older but now a married man. MTV picked up on some potential nods to his new bride, Jessica Biel, including on the addictive opening track "Pusher Love Girl."

"If you choose to believe that the majority of its 70 minutes are inspired by his wife, actress Jessica Biel, then two things immediately spring to mind," MTV says. "One, she must be exhausted, and two, Justin really enjoys being married."

But overall, the disc is representative of a more adult and dapper musician. "It is a tremendous triumph, an artfully anachronistic effort from Timberlake that eschews just about every preconceived notion of popular music in 2013 ... and confidently carves out its own niche. It's part Frank Sinatra, part Frank Ocean, and it plays out gradually, languidly, as if JT and Timbaland never want the party to end," MTV writes.

Rolling Stone agrees, calling Timberlake's newest album "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 radio: The 10 tracks average seven minutes; songs unfurl into vamps, abruptly change keys, pile on unexpected beats and harmonies. The music is catchy, but the emphasis is on rhythm and flow."

Finding that it has more in common with an offering from Maxwell or D'Angelo than Justin Bieber or Usher, RS adds that "'The 20/20 Experience' may test the patience of fans expecting immediate gratification."

Entertainment Weekly, perhaps, was looking for more immediacy with their "20/20 Experience."

"There's ultimately not enough showbiz razzle-dazzle here," EW's review says. "The songs are a little too slow, too long, too lacking in the flashy tap-dance energy that made him a giant solo success when he was 23. Maybe he wants to be the young Frank Sinatra. But for now, he'll have to settle for being a slightly older JT."


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