Even at only 11 tracks, “The 20/20 Experience” is still too long. Admittedly, the album just isn’t designed for the way I consume music (I have a short attention span and I firmly believe that the perfect pop song is around three minutes and thirty seconds), but some of these tracks are just ridiculous.
Album opener “Pusher Love Girl” would be fantastic if it just stopped at the five minute mark instead of descending into a flurry of Timbaland vocal ticks and beats. “Let the Groove Get In” would be a fun little throwback piece if it were a lot less repetitive and didn’t go on for over seven minutes (at one point I was certain I had drifted into the next track and just hadn’t noticed). And second single “Mirrors” would be a great mid-tempo pop ballad if it didn’t end with four straight minutes of CHANTING. You get the point – Justin needs to learn how to edit.
The other issue I have, and it’s a major one, is that Timbaland’s sound just hasn’t evolved at all. Certain tracks (namely “Suit & Tie,” “Mirrors,” “Don’t Hold the Wall,” and “Tunnel Vision”) sound like they could have been released in 2006/2007. There’s a big difference between having a signature sound and reusing the exact same beats that made you famous six years ago. Of course, this wouldn’t be as big of an issue if Justin had decided to branch out and work with more than one producer, but I digress.
Even with these problems, “The 20/20 Experience” isn’t a bad album. The dated production of “Don’t Hold the Wall” and “Tunnel Vision” doesn’t stop them from being great club tracks, and you can’t deny the lush instrumentation and catchy hooks of “Pusher Love Girl” and “That Girl.” When it was released in 2006, “FutureSex/LoveSounds” completely changed the landscape of pop radio – I don’t foresee that kind of impact from Justin’s latest effort (although it is poised to sell close to a million copies in its first week), but he’s got another shot. Reportedly, the second half of “The 20/20 Experience” is coming in November. Hopefully the next installment will ditch the overlong songs and chunky production in favor of something a little more focused and current. We’ll just have to wait and see.