Thursday, August 31, 2006
Justin: his future is sound
As I duly note the hosannas piled like fruit at Justin Timberlake's feet, let me posit FutureSex/LoveSound as Timberlake's Modern Times: an album that refines the achievements of its predecessor, made by a star whose anemic theosophy hardened not long after his thirteenth birthday, who prefers to beg/borrow idioms, sounds, tropes, production doohickeys, and melodies over crafting something world-historic – who may in fact be smarter than we critics because he realizes that begging and borrowing, when refracted through his starpower, becomes lustrous and thus stranger. Like Dylan, Justin knows just enough about how human beings interact to use their language but is incapable of transcending his/their limitations (lots of losing-my-ways, what-goes-around-comes-arounds, and until-the-end-of-times here), which is, I suppose all we want from a star.

Frankly I don't get the complaints that Justin's a cipher without Timbaland; since I figured that JT's a zero anyway he had nothing to lose. But "Señorita" and "Rock Your Body" on 2002's Justified didn't sound like anything the Neptunes had done before, and I give Justin the credit; their toddler-funk and Justin's pseudo-lubriciousness mated and produced a handful of delightful children (if you doubt me, relisten to the latest Nelly Furtado album and you'll note the difference between a client and a collaborator). Divining ways of fucking with his producers' sonic signatures by plagiarizing primary sources is his finest gift. He croons over a Linn drum programmed with Princely precision in "Until the End of Time," forces Snoop to inject languid raps in the loping "Lady Cabdriver"-wannabe "Pose," and overdubs himself singing in his lower register for the magnificent title track. Most happily for all concerned: not a single Brian McKnight horror.

Justin wants us all to love him (and according to this many of his skeptics already do), despite the disparity between his ambitions and the results. He's got great ears and a big attention span though, both of which distinguish him from the other graduates of the Teen Pop Class of '99. The smugness which once made him distasteful has turned into a self-confidence winning enough to win the surly likes of Jim DeRogatis.

(crossposted with A Grand Illusion)

Posted by Alfred Soto on Thursday, August 31, 2006 at 3:08 PM |

Ahh, I was hoping we'd see something about this here. I really do have to listen to this album.

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The FunkyFunky 7 Are:
A group of kids with WAY too much time on their hands.