Justin Timberlake

Man of the Woods

Justin Timberlake doesn’t need mu­sic. Af­ter suc­cess­fully tran­si­tion­ing from boy-band heart­throb to adult pop star, then to suc­cess­ful ac­tor, Timberlake could have am­bled off into a Hol­ly­wood sun­set. In­stead, we get Man of the Woods, a record whose ti­tle sug­gests a fig­ure emerg­ing af­ter a long pe­riod of self-re­flec­tion. Timberlake seems keen to sink his teeth into some­thing meaty, yet nei­ther he, nor his prodi­gious col­lab­o­ra­tors, come up with any­thing new or weighty. Tim­ba­land gets four pro­duc­tion cred­its, none of which ri­val his past heights with or with­out Timberlake. Throw­ing back to the fu­ture­funk of Fu­tureSex/LoveSounds, “Filthy,” the record’s first sin­gle and open­ing cut, teases at its fix­a­tion on sex and love. But as more than one in­ter­net com­men­ta­tor has noted, its procla­ma­tion that “this ain’t the clean ver­sion” is be­lied by its de­cid­edly PG lyrics.

The same can be said for much of the record, which con­fi­den­tially cap­tures that first kiss be­fore mak­ing a hard cut to the morn­ing af­ter, leav­ing every­thing in be­tween to the lis­tener’s imag­i­na­tion. On the al­bum’s back

wo­ven through the ac­tual beats, the in­stru­men­ta­tions alone are enough to hold one’s at­ten­tion. When the lyri­cists do pop up, they most cer­tainly come cor­rect. “Bal­lad of the Beast” fea­tures Shad, Len Bowen and DJ Dopey, all of whom bring thor­ough 16-bar verses. Lead sin­gle “Mu­ta­tions” is where the real lyri­cal mir­a­cles hap­pen, cour­tesy of De La Soul’s Pos­d­nuos. The only real is­sue that faces Sur­vival is also what makes it a re­fresh­ing lis­ten. In the same short breath that so­lid­i­fies it as a beau­ti­ful con­trast to the trap over­haul of the past year, it also doesn’t fur­ther Grand Ana­log’s nar­ra­tive. The lack of rhymes is in­vig­o­rat­ing to the ear, but sac­ri­fices any tan­gi­ble per­son­nel de­vel­op­ment. If you’re look­ing for a half-hour of eas­ily di­gestible rap mu­sic, Sur­vival is a must-play, just don’t be dis­ap­pointed when you don’t know Grand Ana­log any bet­ter then you did be­fore. (gran­dana­log.com) ELEC­TRONIC half, we get glimpses into his life with wife Jes­sica Biel and their young son, to whom he pays trib­ute on the record’s sweet fi­nal track, “Young Man.” Clearly there’s a de­sire to re­flect on his role as a hus­band and fa­ther, but his fame and his (per­fectly nat­u­ral) de­sire not to re­veal too much of him­self is the record’s big­gest im­ped­i­ment.

Timberlake is, above all else, a per­former, and in that re­gard he con­tin­ues to ex­cel — he hits ev­ery note, sells ev­ery line, but at no point feels like he’s push­ing him­self. But it’s the Nep­tunes, work­ing with Timberlake for the first time since 2002’s Jus­ti­fied, who re­ally dis­ap­point. While the funky “Mid­night Sum­mer Jam” is a fun dis­trac­tion, much of the rest of their con­tri­bu­tions dab­ble in light, trop­i­cal flour­ishes. The ti­tle track, with its ques­tion­able as­ser­tion that “If I take it too far, that’s okay be­cause you know I hear the mak­ing up’s fun” is per­haps the most egre­gious ex­am­ple of how far the col­lab­o­ra­tion has fallen. Im­mac­u­lately pro­duced and per­formed, it’s hard to imag­ine Man of the Woods not be­ing a hit, its tracks a steady stream for playlist fod­der. But sound and feel are no sub­sti­tute for soul. (RCA)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.