Whenever Justin Timberlake feels like it, he can return to the pop scene and dominate. He doesn’t need any big time features, any major promotion, he simply needs to be himself and everyone will like him. However, with such privilege can come laziness, something Justin never lets get to him; instead, he tends to up the ante when it comes to creating futuristic music, usually dropping tracks that can end up being apart of the new wave three years from now. With The Neptunes & Timbaland by his side for yet another ride, Justin looks to put his time traveling skills to the test once more with “Man Of The Woods.”
5. MORNING LIGHT
Superstar R&B singers unite for “Morning Light.”
Isn’t “Morning Light” an interesting tune? In one sense, it has this simplistic tone to it that sorta reminds you of a church hymnal, and in another, it has this colorful feel attached to it. Nonetheless, I love it’s pureness, as Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake go back and forth about the enthusiasm that comes with falling in love. Both Alicia and Justin sound beautiful on the track, almost like they found the fountain of youth before they entered into the booth to make it.
I love Justin on this track, but I can easily see John Legend slaying it, too.
4. SAY SOMETHING
“Say Something” is one of the many curve balls that Justin threw our way on this album, providing us with something that contains a bit of Country in it.
I love how Justin and Chris Stapleton go back and forth on this track, laying down something that reminds me of a 2018 version of Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “Say Say Say” gem. Is it a track that the goons in the bando will like? Probably not, but it will at least make you feel all warm and tingly inside!
3. MIDNIGHT SUMMER JAM
“Midnight Summer Jam” has to be the most accurate title in the history of music.
You know what I envision when I hear this track? A bunch of young adults that got together for this kick-ass rave in the middle of the woods during the summer. Most of those individuals are there to move their feet, which is why the root of this track is based on infectious rhythms and lots of energy. However, the song also caters to that one guy that’s been trying to holler at the pretty blonde girl that’s sitting closest to the bonfire, as it includes this slowed up part that is meant for serenading. Towards the end, the song relies on lively instrument-play, a sound that gives the track this nature-like feel. If I didn’t watch so much ID channel, I would be interested in attending this rave!
Like I said in the introduction, Justin always seems to create a new sound when he returns to the scene, usually guiding our simple-minded pop brains out of that small little box we cannot seem to escape. Not only did Justin get futuristic on “Filthy (literally),” but he also managed to incorporate several sounds from the music of today into the fray. Eventually, the song will make perfect sense to you, as it has this inescapable grooviness to it that you can’t ignore.
With “Filthy,” I feel like Justin tried to make up for his hiatus by releasing a song that contains something from each year he missed.
The first single off of this album was “Filthy,“ and understandably, it took some time for people to fully understand it. “Supplies” is a bit different — it has more of a traditional sound, as Justin sings over this bass booming/oriental sounding instrumental that screams out Neptunes in every type of way. It’s a lot catchier than “Filthy,” and will probably catch on with listeners a lot easier.
I hate to say it, but Justin sounds a lot like blackbear on this song.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. FILTHY (5/5)
2. MIDNIGHT SUMMER JAM (5/5)
3. SAUCE (4/5)
4. MAN OF THE WOODS (4.3/5)
5. HIGHER, HIGHER (3.9/5)
6. WAVE (3.9/5)
7. SUPPLIES (5/5)
8. MORNING LIGHT (5/5)
9. SAY SOMETHING (5/5)
10. HERS (INTERLUDE) (N/A)
11. FLANNEL (3.9/5)
12. MONTANA (4/5)
13. BREEZE OFF THE POND (4.8/5)
14. LIVIN’ OFF THE LAND (4.2/5)
15. THE HARD STUFF (4/5)
16. YOUNG MAN (4.1/5)
We loved Bruno Mars and what he was able to achieve on his “24K Magic” album, right? Justin sorta took Bruno’s same old school approach for “Man of The Woods,” a move that I think opens up his music to a wider fan base.
The instrumentals on this album are riveting, Justin’s lyrics are hella meaningful, and his vocal performance is pretty decent; so why do I feel like something is missing? Why do I feel this disconnect with most of his showings on this album? Throughout listening to it, I felt like I was hearing an artist that was simply being told what to say without actually feeling the words he was saying (dare I say it felt a bit robotic)… The good thing about these sentiments is that the songs you hear will still be enjoyable to you, you simply may not feel them as deeply as you think you should.
The connection between Justin, the Neptunes & Timbaland on this album is as phenomenal as it’s ever been! You can tell they truly collaborated with each other on it, because each track has this intricate feel to it that indicates to me that they did a lot of brainstorming during its making. The reunion between these three powerhouses is probably the best thing about this project.
I love Justin’s music as much as anyone else, but I cannot deny that this album didn’t quite meet my expectations. Did I set the bar too high? Or is that Justin’s music simply sounds ‘normal’ these days when you stack it up against his fellow musicians? Don’t get me wrong, I think every track on this project is at least listenable, but as a whole, it didn’t move the needle for me. With time, minds can change, but for now, I’m taking Justin’s time machine and going back in time to when his music made me feel something.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.