Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Don't need no L'Oreal, 'cos bitch you're bad as hell"

Let's try to intellectualise some pop music, shall we?

Warning: Shameless hyperbole follows...

Now, we all now by now that 'SexyBack' is a bit shit. One of Timbaland's worst drum tracks ever and Justin doesn't suit vocal manipulation to that degree whatsoever. So, imagine my surprise, after having my expectations lowered by that first single, then raised slightly by the brilliance of 'My Love' (which I posted t'other day), upon finding that Justin Timberlake's new album, FutureSex/LoveSound is utterly fucking stunning.


Totally fucking awesome!

No bullshit!

A near-perfect pop album that justifies (no pun intended) it's 70-odd minute running time, and actually leaves you wanting a little more, FutureSex/LoveSound is a staggering achievement from an artist who is really starting to feel comfortable in his own skin, rather than trying to live up to the 'new Michael Jackson' tag. In fact, if this is close to any kind of pop predecessor, it's akin to Prince's mid-eighties work. Even the ballads work!

Right from the off, with the skeletal funk of the title track, FutureSex sets its stall out as a pop record that transcends radio fluff to actually be one of the most daring, vital records to be released by anyone in the past twelve months. The lyrical conceits are pretty much pitch-perfect; Timberlake is an excellent conveyor of the standard 'pop' cliches (only cliched because they're true) of love, lust, jealousy, sadness and betrayal, never sounding fake or manufactured, due to Timberlake's winning streak of sincerity.

Most of all, the production work on this album is astounding and not just from the reliable Timbaland. Will.I.Am turns in another fantastic display of knob-twiddling, after Kelis' ''Til The Wheels Fall Off', on 'Damn Girl', one of the album's strongest tracks. Also, Rick Rubin does his best to strip JT of all the baggage that might come with being one of the world's leading pop singers on '(Another Song) All Over Again', a heavy, dewy-eyed soul number that Penn & Oldham would be proud of. Then there's the chopped-up trance-y whooshes of the aforementioned 'My Love' that makes it one of the finest songs of the year, regardless of genre.

I may well cool on this record soon, but right now it's shot into the top five of the year for me (not that I'm keeping track of anything like that). A supremely listenable, massively addictive piece of work from an artist on the cusp of being king of the fucking world. And you know what? He totally deserves it.

Justin Timberlake - Love Stoned/I Think She Knows Interlude (mp3)

Another forthcoming pop album that there appears to be some weight of expectation about is Beyonce's B'Day. To be honest, after the heavy glitterbomb of Justin's latest, this couldn't have done anything but pale in comparison, but to be fair, this isn't a bad record either. It feels like three or four hits padded out with a fair bit of filler, but it's certainly entertaining, diverting filler.

One track that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of B'Day's tracklisting however is the Rich Harrison-produced 'Suga Mama'. It's a trick that Harrison (and Beyonce) has pulled before and it sounds a little like a slowed-down '1 Thing', but it's a trick that's worth pulling over and over again when it sounds this good. The track is all big crash cymbals, '1 Thing'-like congas and other percussion and a clipped, funky guitar sample (from, I think and I may well be wrong, Eddie Bo and Inez Cheatham's 'Lover And A Friend'). Ms. Knowles sings the fuck out of it too and the breakdown, seemingly beamed in from a completely different song, layered over the top of the original track is one of the most surprising elements in a pop song in 2006.

"Come sit on mama lap", indeed.

Beyonce - Suga Mama (mp3)

Right, I'm off to listen to Husker Du.



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