Album: The 20/20 Experience
Needless to say, Justin Timberlake's first album in seven years, The 20/20 Experience, was one of the most anticipated albums of the early part of the year. But despite the big band and the gazillion dollar video, and a guest spot by Jay-Z, its first single, "Suit & Tie," fell a little flat. (Jay's rap, just as GZA had predicted it would be twenty years ago, was "cleaner than a bar of soap.") So we waited for a while for the crucial comeback track. We got it in "Mirrors."
A full eight-minutes long, the shimmering ballad has remnants JT's early, teeny-bop years—multiple, exquisitely harmonized vocal tracks, a soaring chorus, and a love story for the ages: "I don't wanna lose you now," he sings, voice aching. "I'm looking right at the other half of me." There are remnants of N'Sync, and Timberlake's first album, Justified, with lush synth strings and producer Timberland's beatboxing, and a minute-long breakdown followed by a complete key change interlude that goes into a final three-minute vamp. "Mirrors" does everything a good comeback should: emphasize a veteran artist's growth while revisiting the musical strengths of his early career. —Lauren Nostro