Justin Timberlake’s Man Of The Woods is vacuous, vapid and cliched


Justin Timberlake – Man Of The Woods

Rating: NN

Great pop music can get away with many things.

It can deploy bomb after bomb of cringe-worthy lines, like Higher, Highers I might as well have been some butter/melting all over girl, what? It can bite sounds and styles of the past, like the generic California sunshine pop of Man Of The Woods’s admittedly catchy title track. It can even wedge ill-advised skits between tunes, like on the aggressively sentimental Hers.

But if a pop star especially one as ubiquitous as late-night rap historian Justin Timberlake can commit a cardinal musical sin, its to put out a forgettable record. And Man Of The Woods, his first full-length since 2013’s The 20/20 Experience, barely makes an impression. You likely won’t find yourself humming any of these songs past Super Bowl Sunday.

It turns out lead single Filthy, a bloated, pseudo-futuristic mess of half-baked hooks, was a harbinger of things to come. The passable sounding Say Something wastes country superstar Chris Stapleton by saying, well, nothing. Supplies is embarrassingly self-congratulatory about a faux-wokeness the dude cant back up (ahem, Woody Allen). The Hard Stuff a meditation on the ride-or-die nature of true love is decent, as close as Timberlake gets to the country vibes that so many people, for some reason, thought were coming.

The album doesnt sound phoned in, necessarily, but it absolutely sounds vacuous, vapid and cliched. Its best moment is Morning Light, a sweet, simple love song featuring a smoky Alicia Keys. Its worst moment is Flannel a song about the emotional resonance and practical warmth of a piece of clothing. It sounds like the musical equivalent of a Marks Work Wearhouse flyer.

Top track: Morning Light (feat. Alicia Keys)

music@nowtoronto.com | @MattGeeWilliams



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