Justin Timberlake traded in his suit and tie for jeans and a flannel, and no, it wasn’t for the best. Timberlake’s latest album, “Man of the Woods,” dropped on Friday, Feb. 2, just two days before his big Super Bowl spotlight, which featured one of his new singles, “Filthy.” Luckily, this single is less horrible when watching his suave dance moves accompany it.
I think what’s the most confusing part about this album is the fact that he advertises this bold move to become this outdoorsy man who hangs out with trees and the snow, yet many songs, like his first single, “Filthy,” sound metallic and with the allusions to sex, it seems like the robots themselves are promiscuous. This electro-vibe clashes with the singer’s pop star reputation and the incorporation of country/blues melodies that he uses in certain songs, most likely as a tribute to his Nashville roots.
One of the few songs that is actually danceable is the second song on the album, “Midnight Summer Jam.” If you can get past the fact that he uses “y’all” four times within the first 20 seconds of the song and you’re typically a modern country fan, then you will probably enjoy Timberlake’s single, which incorporates a hint of back beats as a form of modernizing the old-time country vibe.
Another country song that has light music and feel-good tones is “Man of the Woods,” which the album is named after. Throughout the song, Timberlake sings “I’m a man of the Woods/ That’s my Pride.” And that it is. He must really enjoy his country flannel, because it inspired him so-much-so that he wrote a song totally dedicated to his beloved flannel entitled, “Flannel.” Ironically, I actually love this song. It starts out by being very camp-firey and almost like a kumbaya vibe. However, about eight counts into the song, the beat drops and effectively incorporates the artist’s pop talent and country roots. It’s one of those songs that you groove to during a chill afternoon.
Two of Timberlake’s low points in his new album (in exception for the already headache causing, “Filthy”) are: “Wave” and “Young Man.” Let’s start with “Wave.” There is way too much going on within the first 20 seconds. The song starts with guitar, then switches to drums, then switches back to guitars and eventually adds back in the drums as a back beat. All the while, Timberlake ditched his previous country vibe to take on his electro-robot tone. Is this supposed to be reggae? It’s unclear. I think this song is trying to be flirty, as it hints to female attractiveness, but it just is way too cheesy to be taken seriously. Secondly, “Young Man.” Come on JT, you were never a cheesy guy and now you’re getting all sappy. Don’t get me wrong, your son is adorable, but that doesn’t mean I want to listen to a song about him. I didn’t like it when Kanye did it and even your insane dance moves won’t give you that exception. The song ends with Timberlake’s son saying, “daddy,” which maybe he’ll really appreciate when he’s older (but probably not).
Major music review columns low-starred the pop star, for although his album was a bold move, and an obvious step away from what he’s used to producing, it simply was just not good. The Rolling Stone gave him the highest score of 3.5/5 stars, and The Guardian, The Independent, and The Telegraph all gave Timberlake 3/5 stars. Due to his few saving grace songs and an A for effort mindset, I’ll jump on the bandwagon and give Timberlake 3/5 stars.