Justin Timberlake‘s “back to my roots” album ‘Man Of The Woods’ seems set for a big first week bow – thanks to his media machine and the colossal Super Bowl platform.
However, response to the music housed on the LP has been far from endorsing.
Early signs suggested as much based on the lukewarm response to much of the pre-release singles serviced in the weeks preceding.
Yet, it’s the critics reviews that have perhaps been most scathing.
See what we mean after the jump…
Pitchfork delivered the most damning verdict on the set – rating it only 3.8 out of 10. And the review itself stuck the proverbial fork in big time:
“Too much of Man of the Woods is musically and thematically shallow; at 66 minutes, it’s a mile wide and an inch deep. There’s a point midway through the album—right around the threadbare-shirt hymnal “Flannel”—where you realize “modern Americana with 808s” wasn’t just a cute tagline: That’s really the whole idea, and it quickly wears thin. Timberlake may have yanked back the reins on the interminable song lengths of The 20/20 Experience, but many of these tracks still manage to overstay their welcome by a minute or two. They don’t have the hooks or the dynamism to justify their continued existence: phrases get recycled, breakdowns feel like intrusions from completely different songs, grooves are sought but remain undiscovered. “Midnight Summer Jam” is a sub-Robin Thicke boogie with a sub-John Popper harmonica solo; “Sauce” is Beyoncé’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself” cut with a jug full of pond water.
[Timberlake] played a pivotal role in one of this century’s defining TV controversies and was happily invited back to the scene of the crime little more than a decade later. He rush-recorded and released a massive two-part album to fulfill contractual obligations and was welcomed back into the music industry with arms wide open. He wore a full denim suit and cowboy hat on the red carpet; he played a crucial role in The Love Guru. None of it mattered. When you skate through your life unscathed, you accumulate hubris. And it takes a lot of hubris to make an album like Man of the Woods.
And the lashings continued from others:
“Justin Timberlake sounds bored on Man of the Woods” – Vulture
“Man of the Woods, while certainly not 2018’s worst album, is further evidence that Timberlake is far from the pop music innovator he once was. The album’s highlights, from the nimble disco of ‘Midnight Summer’s Jam’ and ‘Breeze’ to the drawling Alicia Keys collab ‘Morning Light’, all fall within the singer’s vintage-soul comfort zone.” – USA Today
“Throughout Man of the Woods, Timberlake’s high, breathy vocals stab out a message of ‘escape to the country’ with all the conviction of a Michael Jackson impersonator jamming with the Drive-By Truckers in an Alabama roadhouse bar. It is a nice idea, but you know it is not going to end well.”- The Telegraph, 3/5
“Timbaland and the Neptunes handle the vast majority of the production, and most of it looks backward, not forward. The Neptunes, especially, thrive with this approach, especially on ‘Higher Higher,’ a gleaming 1970s soundtrack homage. There are outliers — the throbbing pulse of ‘Filthy’ has reverberations of acid house, and ‘Supplies’ suggests someone has been listening to Migos — but for much of this album, Mr. Timberlake is content to live in the past.
We are now approaching the 10th year of the national delusion that Justin Timberlake remains an essential pop star.” – The New York Times
It’s safe to say that JT will premiere with impressive numbers – on the merit of his name and the enormity of the audience that’ll watch his Halftime Show.
What happens thereafter will perhaps be the most interesting aspect of all.
Will ‘Man Of The Woods’ end up front-loaded (ala Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’) and fizzle quickly? Or will a consistent push and/or an eventual hit help turn the tide?
Let us know…