He's come a long way from his mop-topped, swoon-inducing teenaged 'N Sync days, not to mention his stint as one half of the most gorgeous pairing in pop; but that's not to say that Justin Timberlake has lost any of his magnetism. In fact, since 2002's multi-million selling debut Justified, he's become possibly the hottest male pop-erty on the planet, captivating everyone from toddlers to great-grannies with his charismatic stage persona and slicker-than-a-spill-on-an-oil-rig hip-hop/pop mash-ups. Justified announced Timberlake as a pop phenomenon: 'the new Michael Jackson', the critics cried, and frankly, minus the glove and the controversy, they weren't too far off. Now back with his supposedly 'difficult' second album, Mr. JT has employed many of his previous collaborators to lend a hand crafting FutureSex/LoveSounds; Timbaland, who produced and guested on Justified does likewise here, and Snoop Dogg also features briefly. Yet FS/LS doesn't merely pick up where its predecessor left off: if Justified was a slinky, sophisticated and mostly considered compilation, this is its older, wiser and infinitely more experienced brother. Instead of bemoaning lost loves, JT is now wooing the lay-deez with his slick rhymes and smooth vocals. The title track's pulsating beat is both sensual and shoulder-twitching; the excellent LoveStoned is a sexy, layered affair with inspired violin intervals, and the consecutive interlude is a classy sliver of deftly-produced pop. Inevitably, with the peaks come several troughs: My Love, featuring rapper T.I. is undeniably fluid and features some of the niftiest slo-mo effects around, but is ultimately ruined by a bizarre Crazy Frog-meets-Laughing-Policeman underlay, while Summer Love's repetitive refrain is more cold dripping than Grease. Other collaborations create both climaxes (the superb and retro-style soul of Damn Girl featuring Will.I.Am and the fleetingly quirky Pose featuring Snoop) and nadirs that threaten to overwhelm Timberlake's contribution (Chop Me Up with Three 6 Mafia).Overall, though, FS/LS is a titillating proposition and an enjoyable, if slightly overdone listen; when Justin Timberlake says he's bringing SexyBack, he really does mean it.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 09:00 | Tuesday 19th September 2006 | Album Review