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01st Feb 2018

First reviews for Justin Timberlake’s new album are a very mixed bag

Rory Cashin

It doesn’t exactly sound like he’s bringing sexy back again…

Remember when Justin Timberlake was releasing the most forward-sounding, must-listen pop songs? Firing them into the charts like tactical, sexual missiles? Those were the days.

His forthcoming album Man Of The Woods seems him reuniting with producers Timbaland and Danja (who helped shape the majority of FutureSex/LoveSounds) and The Neptunes (the production duo featuring Pharrell Williams who put in the majority of the leg work on Justified), and people got very excited by this news.

Then he started saying how the album was going to sound like “modern Americana with 808s”, whatever that means, and song titles like ‘Flannel’ and ‘Livin’ Off The Land’ had everyone scratching their heads.

The first three singles – George Michael meets Prince electro-funk ‘Filthy’, the post-apocalypse-as-sex-drive metaphor ‘Supplies’, and pure genre meltdown ‘Say Something’ with current country star Chris Stapleton – failed to set the world on fire, and the early reviews for the album as a whole kind of follow suit.

“It’s a grab bag of styles and sonic mood boards. … Once an artist who reshaped the contours of the Hot 100, Timberlake now seems content to ride out his own scenic route, as blithe and unknowable as he’s ever been.” – Entertainment Weekly

“Sometimes convincing, sometimes limp.” – The New York Times

“There’s definitely a nod to new Nashville here–however, we’re talking more Mumford & Sons if they started songwriting for Justin Bieber than the grit and guts of Waylon Jennings or the current king of classic country, Sturgill Simpson.” – NME

“The good bits are great, the bad bits best avoided, but in a pop world where originality isn’t much encouraged, there’s something really laudable about the intention behind it, and its author’s willingness to think outside the box.” – The Guardian

However, thankfully, one thing pretty much all of the reviews have in common is that there is one absolute smashing banger on there.

Prepare for ‘Midnight Summer Jam’ to be the soundtrack to you, well, summer. But for the rest of the album to be forgotten as a bit of an experimental oddity.

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