Justin Timberlake "Everything I Thought I Was" Album Review

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via RCA Records
JT’s latest album is missing some swagger, but it’s still a decent pop project.

When a legacy pop act continues to churn out music decades after they debut, mainstream success begins to wane. However, there are exceptions. Justin Timberlake belongs in a unique class of artists who continue to enjoy popularity well past their musical breakthrough. On his sixth studio album, Everything I Thought I Was, he toes the line between nostalgic pop, breezy R&B, and funk. But while the album has a few impressive moments worth noting, JT’s latest offering isn’t quite sticking the landing. 

From the intro alone, it’s evident that Justin Timberlake’s signature swag is on thin ice. However, it’s quite difficult to pinpoint when this decline began. At 18 songs long, Everything I Thought It Was is quite the hefty project but JT is already used to long-form storytelling. After all, 2018’s Man Of The Woods clocked at 16 songs. Moreover, the crooner split 2013’s The 20/20 Experience into two parts. 

So while the length of the project isn’t the problem, it contributes to the overall quality. Sure, Justin Timberlake might sound confident and sexy, but a few things are missing: memorable tracks, and the sound his fans have come to know and appreciate. 

JT Attempts To Resurrect Nostalgia

Just one listen into “Drown,” and we’re transported to 2002 again. As expected, his first album since the release of Britney Spears' memoir, Pieces Of Me, appeared to shed light on the bombshell allegations made surrounding their relationship, ultimately leading to plenty of backlash. "Drown" almost serves as a follow-up to “Cry Me A River"; the songs are eerily similar. It will probably remain uncertain whether “Drown” serves as a sequel, but fans won’t be reaching if they come to that conclusion. All things considered though, it is one of the few standout tracks on Everything I Thought It Was

Saving Grace Features

Each featured artist on Justin Timberlake’s sixth album contrasts the next. Thankfully, it plays to the album's strengths since their distinct styles help boost Everything I Thought It Was’ mass appeal. The first of three featured artists on the album is Nigeria’s Fireboy DML. The Afro-pop star, who has collaborated with Ed Sheeran, D Smoke, and Chris Brown, delivers some of the most infectious moments on the project. On “Liar,” Timberlake slightly adopts Afrobeats and proves slightly comfortable in unfamiliar terrain.

“Sanctified,” which features Tobe Nwigwe, is another stellar moment for Justin Timberlake. A smooth blend of gospel, R&B, rock, and funk, JT sounds quite at home during one of the most daring moments on the album. If only more tracks on the album attempted to achieve this audacious level of experimentalism. Perhaps, the singer might have achieved a new musical high. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of ambition on many other tracks. 

Though the other two features on Everything I Thought I Was are first-time collaborators in JT's circle, the singer's latest album brought a much-anticipated dose of nostalgia. Despite the tumultuous year that 2023 was for him, one of the highs was the NSYNC reunion at the VMAs where they confirmed new music was on the way. While the grandiose expectations were blown up by Britney Spears’ revelations, the all-star boy band produced “Paradise.” The penultimate track on the album is pop perfection, and offers a healthy dose of some much-needed nostalgia. Vocally, Justin Timberlake and his comrades are very impressive, with piercing harmonies, reminiscent of their 90s days. Maybe, if the dust settles enough, there’ll be some more NSYNC in store for us

Conclusion

Justin Timberlake offers just enough of the qualities that make an album worth giving a try. However, this is the same star that delivered “Rock Your Body” and “Suit And Tie” a decade apart. That’s why it’s a bit disappointing that there are no standouts of such magnitude in his latest body of work. Timberlake has never been one to rush an album. However, Everything I Thought It Was feels that way. At just over an hour and seventeen minutes long, the album isn’t choked by any means. Regardless, Justin Timberlake is definitely capable of producing some more refined music. 

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About The Author
Demilade Phillips has been a Features Writer for HotNewHipHop since 2023. The self-proclaimed music fanatic deals with most things Hip Hop and RnB, while also covering film, television, and the entertainment industry at large. When he’s not working, the International Relations graduate is either binging anime, immersing himself in the underground EDM scene, or crafting up original pieces.