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Hats off to the fresh new prince (southland tales mention)

Monday 11 September 2006, by Webmaster

Justin Timberlake
(RCA) 12.99

Justin Timberlake’s fairy godmother must have been on holiday this summer. Edison Force, the fi lm in which the Tennessean made his acting debut, went straight to DVD, after Southland Tales, another JT vehicle, was critically mauled at Cannes. Happily, Cameron Diaz’s consort has a song ’n’ dance career to fall back on. His second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, fi nds his pop life as charmed as ever.

If the title of JT’s new album has an echo of Prince about it, that’s because Timberlake has swapped the Michael Jackson crotch-grabs of his debut, Justified, for a more Eighties electro sex-pop leaning. There’s even a little mauve funk on ’Sexy Ladies’, a horn-blare-laced romp as preposterous as its title. This evolution in sound mirrors the swap of personnel behind the mixing desk. The Neptunes - whose spurned works for Jacko formed the basis for Justified - are succeeded by Tim ’Timbaland’ Mosley , the hip-hop auteur behind Missy Elliott and, most recently, Nelly Furtado’s No 1 ’Maneater’.

Tim ’n’ Justin are no strangers. Mosley produced ’Cry Me a River’, Timberlake’s show-stopping single from his first album. They’ve crafted at least two sequels here. Most jaw-dropping is ’What Goes Around Comes Around’, an edgy, electronic twangle laced with Pro-Tooled guitars. It sounds like it could be Timberlake’s most assured hit yet.

More stark is ’My Love’, a retrofuturist tour de force. Even more remarkable, however, is what happens in between. The six-song Mosley core of the CD is built around a series of sinuous preludes and codas, the sort of bother normally found on Pink Floyd records.

After that the album loses its way a little, but Timberlake proves himself a lithe vocal stylist as he jumps through some hoops held up by Will.I.Am of The Black Eyed Peas (’Damn Girl’) and Yodaesque uber-producer Rick Rubin, who has the final, retro word with ’ All Over Again’ - a slice of classic jazz-band soul that sets up a template for Timberlake’s next musical move. He’s a lot more fun with his dander up; let’s hope the acting career takes off in the meantime.