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Justin Timberlake - Everything I Thought It Was (Album Review)

Thursday, 21 March 2024 Written by Adam England

Justin Timberlake is a pro when it comes to making high-quality pop. He’s probably the most successful former boyband member this side of Michael Jackson — sorry Robbie, sorry Harry — and barring the 2018 misstep ‘Man of the Woods’, he has seldom put a musical foot wrong. 

‘Everything I Thought It Was’ is Timberlake’s first album in six years, and it comes after his personal life, and character, have come under a lot of scrutiny. Rather than offer any sort of rebuttal, it fades quickly into the background. Is it something we’ll remember in 10 years? Probably not. It’s one for the beige recesses of radio.

It’s long — 18 songs in more than an hour — and duly struggles to hold the listeners’ attention the whole way through. It’s also hard to drum up too much sympathy given some of its lyrical preoccupations.

Take Memphis, where Timberlake seems to lament the pressures on him as one of the city’s most famous sons. “Just be great / Put on for your city, for your state / And whatever you do, just make us proud,” sings a multi-millionaire who has seldom stepped away from the limelight in 25 years. 

That said, there are some moments that do stand out. Lead single Selfish is a mix of vintage JT and modern R&B where Timberlake’s vocals are on top form. The one-two punch of Play and then Technicolor, meanwhile, is one of the LP’s best passages, showcasing Timberlake’s cocksure confidence. A gospel number with rock influences, featuring rapper Tobe Nwigwe, Sanctified is another keeper despite some barrel-scraping words. “I go off the wall, no MJ, but I'm walkin' on moons,” Timberlake intones.

My Favorite Drug and its ilk are derivative, though. The “fellas” and “ladies” callouts are something he did to much better effect in Señorita over two decades ago. Paradise, featuring his old *NSYNC bandmates, is four minutes of middle of the road manband air-grabbing you’ll never get back.

It’s not even that the misses on ‘Everything I Thought It Was’ are that bad. They’re just forgettable. In truth, this could have been half as long and it would have been better. As established during the opening track, money can’t buy happiness. But neither can listening to this.

Justin Timberlake Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed August 07 2024 - BIRMINGHAM Utilita Arena
Thu August 08 2024 - MANCHESTER Co Op Live
Sun August 11 2024 - LONDON O2 Arena
Mon August 12 2024 - LONDON O2 Arena

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