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Music Review: Justin Timberlake returns on nostalgic ‘Everything I Thought It Was’


LOS ANGELES — In its higher tracks, Justin Timberlake ‘s first unused book in six years, “Everything I Thought It Was,” is a go back to method for the musician. Within the moments when his straight away recognizable falsetto eases right into a common more or less life funk, it really works. In others, it looks like poorly timed nostalgia.

As soon as celebrated as one of the vital stunning performers of the twenty first century for his smart R&B-pop, JT has had a noteceable occupation: from Disney’s star-making “The Mickey Mouse Club” to fronting some of the a hit boy bands of all year, (asterisk)NSYNC, to discovering a trail in opposition to individuation and embarking on a stellar solo stint. The closing could be essentially the most notable — from 2002’s “Justified” to 2006’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” and an performing occupation (lest somebody omit his efficiency in “The Social Network”) to but some other triumphant go back to his spot atop pop song’s throne with 2013’s “The 20/20 Experience” and “The 20/20 Experience — 2 of 2.” If handiest it could’ve lasted.

Timberlake’s community belief faltered within the years that adopted. The book between that time and this one, 2018’s “Man of the Woods” inclined into “return to roots” iconography (Timberlake is from Tennessee, after all) and Americana, folk sounds — a divisive detour. When, in the early 2020s, the “Free Britney Spears” movement picked up momentum, Timberlake was cast as a villain in her story, which was only amplified with the release of her 2023 memoir “The Woman in Me.” Several chapters are devoted to her relationship with Justin Timberlake, including deeply personal details about a pregnancy, abortion and painful breakup.

Timberlake was also criticized for his role at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, in which a wardrobe malfunction led to Janet Jackson’s breast being exposed, kneecapping her career. He didn’t experience the same effects and was invited back to perform in 2018.

That’s all necessary context to bring the larger-than-life Justin Timberlake into 2024. The 18-track “Everything I Thought It Was,” does no longer erase the “Man of the Woods” length, however it’s an stress-free — if continuously by-product — reminder of Timberlake on the peak of his powers: from the slow-swag unhappiness monitor “Drown” co-written and co-produced via Timberlake, Louis Bell, Cirkut, Kenyon Dixon and Amy Allen to alternative increased moments. Like “No Angels,” with its disco rhythms and idiosyncratic falsetto on “There ain’t no angels here on the dance floor” or at the inverted gospel “Sanctified,” which options rapper Tobe Nwigwe and stadium-sized rock instrumentation. The pop “Paradise” options all of (asterisk)NSYNC — if just a reunion was once everlasting.

Later there’s “Selfish,” the first single released from the album, an R&B ballad that bears striking resemblance to Nick Jonas’ “Jealous” (which is ordinary, as a result of “Jealous” steals from JT’s early paintings — and far of Jonas’s solo occupation, it sort of feels, was once designed to replicate Timberlake’s a hit fracture from his boy band. Snake, meet tail.)

Any rectifying together with his future self — and his flow community belief — is proscribed to the opener “Memphis”: “I pray for peace within myself/And no more regrets with it,” he sings. “’Cause when I looked at my soul in the Mississippi/It reflected it.” The residue of the book, it sort of feels, makes a speciality of love and the energy of his courting with spouse Jessica Biel.

Within the press important as much as the let fall of “The whole thing I Idea It Used to be,” Timberlake has said the album took four years to make, and that he wrote 100 songs for it. The work is somewhat evident on tracks like “Infinity Sex” and “F——- Up the Disco,” brassy, self-referential songs that serve as reminders of JT’s heyday. They lack the impact of his previous records, but they are pleasant, nonetheless.

The reality is, for the nostalgic charms found on “Everything I Thought It Was,” Timberlake’s work is no doubt colored by an unfortunately timed return to the music game.

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AP song evaluations: https://apnews.com/hub/music-reviews



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