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Album Review: FutureSex/LoveSounds

By Sheroog Kubur, February 16 2023

In honour of Sex Week, we’re kicking it back to the release of one of the greatest male pop records of the new age — Justin Timberlake’s sophomore album, FutureSex/LoveSounds. In his desperate attempt to revitalize the 2006 pop scene, Timberlake managed to release an album that was equal parts edgy and entertaining. He was no longer hidden in the shadow of the teeny-bopper N*SYNC days and wanted to show maturation, making an entire record dedicated to his commitment to bringing sexy back. 

The album is composed of two parts, one side exploring the “future sex” and the other exploring “love sounds.” It’s a very loud juxtaposition, placing raunchy and desire-filled songs against heartbreak and butterflies in your stomach. The album treats sex and love as interchangeable, using a romantic and inviting delivery for sexual gratification. It shows two sides of the same coin — the sweetness required for a relationship to work and the fun that comes with it. Timberlake’s voice is naturally more reminiscent of honey than ice, better suited for the bitter breakup ballads of “What Goes Around…/…Comes Around” rather than the aggressive European rave sounds of “SexyBack,” but it creates another fun juxtaposition within each track. 

Timbaland’s presence as a producer was welcome, injecting new life into Timberlake’s otherwise potentially tacky lyricism. The lyrics were composed alongside the beats, meaning lyrics like “I’ll let you whip me if I misbehave” were off the cuff, studio experimentation. While these lyrics can sometimes come across as a desperate attempt to shed the boyish charm of N*SYNC, the production elevates each track to an unexpected level. The opening track, “FutureSex/LoveSound,” is groovy and monotonous with a slick melody. The transition into an explosive chorus riddled with charming instrumentals isn’t offputting, instead akin to the climax to a skillfully built beat. 

This record was one of experimentation for Timbaland and Timberlake. The structure of the album is bizarre, with multiple songs going over five minutes with interludes and transitions, acting like two parts to a story. Songs like “LoveStoned/ I Think She Knows” rely on double meanings, first describing a man drooling over a woman in the club and then a man who may have truly fallen in love with her. It can come across as corny, but the transition from an orchestral melody accompanied by a chorus of Timberlake’s voice evoking luxurious imagery to the tragic guitars and stripped back delivery of the second half take the listener on journey. A similar effect is done to a lesser degree on “Let Me Talk To You/My Love” featuring T.I. — an acapella rap cipher between Timberlake and T.I. to a percussive instrumental becoming a dark new wave track that sounds so painfully 2006. 

At the very least, if the iconic Timberlake and Timbaland duo aren’t convincing, then the fun time you’ll have listening to the album will be enough. It’s dynamic enough that you have to sit down and experience it at once, listening to the raw creative process of two musical legends. It’s also entertaining enough that if the haphazard attempts at being sexy aren’t the best part, the gentle love confessions peppered throughout will be sweet enough to give you a cavity.

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