The hope is to get more of these reviews up online, but it’s proving to be pretty difficult.

Band: Justin Timberlake
Album: FutureSex/LoveSounds
Best song: “My Love” is undoubtedly the highlight of the album, though “SexyBack” isn’t bad.
Worst song: “Damn Girl” is damn bad.

A lot of great success stories come from those who are not necessarily the smartest or most innovative folks in the world, but simply knew enough to latch onto the real innovators/geniuses and hope to ride the wave. That’s not to say that these people aren’t talented to worthwhile, but their talent is hugely augmented by being around those who can get the most out of them.

Eminmen always reminds me of this skill, as his best work was always done with Dr. Dre showing him around and the the second he eschewed Dre for his own production work, the records suffered.

Justin Timberlake is, no doubt, this type of person. His immense talent is mostly in “packaging” things — his voice, his bone structure, his dance skills — and not in the creative places like his songwriting (bleah) or production skills (bleah). So, instead, he chooses to work with those more skilled than he and puts out good records.

Even better, Timberlake doesn’t seem to feel the need to stick his nose in everything or release an album every five minutes. He appears in a movie here and there, but he doesn’t guest on every record under the sun. It’s kind of nice to know that Justin Timberlake appears to enjoy being Justin Timberlake.

(Side note: I saw The Love Guru last week and it was a steaming pile of garbage. Timberlake was passably funny in it, but, overall, the movie sucked so very hard.)

As with any artist going out on his/her own, Timberlake’s work shows a progression that any artist would be proud to enjoy. His work with *NSync is undoubtedly mindless pop. Justified showed plenty of that angle, producing “Rock Your Body” and “Like I Love You,” but also the Timbaland-produced classic breakup song “Cry Me a River.”

FutureSex/LoveSounds is an extension of this growth. Taking from hip hop’s grandiosity, Timberlake spends most of the album chanting and singing over chopped beats and Southern-style production. Guests include Three 6 Mafia and T.I., as Timberlake works more of a hip hop angle.

Surprisingly, the hip hop situation works much better than you would think, largely because Timberlake is mostly a bit player in the songs. “My Love” is, without question, the highlight of the record and not because Timberlake brings a great performance (he does), but because Timbaland’s production is the star of the song. “Chop Me Up” features Three 6 Mafia and is less enthusiastically produced than “My Love,” but nevertheless is a sum of its parts, as opposed to being carried by Timberlake.

“Damn Girl” isn’t great and will.i.am’s rap in the middle feels forced. “Losing My Way” is a similarly forced attempt at gospel hip hop or introspection or something.

FutureSex/LoveSounds is hardly the world’s best record. It’s mostly a dance record, as “SexyBack” proves. “My Love” is a wonderful ballad with a pretty idiotic message (“love is good,” essentially). “LoveStoned” has remnants of Timberlake’s boy band past. “Sexy Ladies” is mostly nonsense, but is similarly hummable and fun.

Overall, it’s a fine effort and one that builds on Timberlake’s perfectly charming first record.

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  • About Me

    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

    My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Gazette, The Atlantic, Sno-Cone and a bunch of defunct zines.

    You can contact me at rjgianfortune at gmail dot com.

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