Before “Suit & Tie”, the last thing I’d heard from Justin Timberlake was his throwaway collabs with The Lonely Island. Or are those classics? With “Suit & Tie”, the bopping beat and big-band feel gave it the sound of some chestnut brushed off and rapped over. The lead-off single for The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2 keeps the classic vibe, but fast-forwards to 1979.
As the hand-claps and music video will tell you, this is song is for celebrations. The album tracks from 20/20 were all a little blue with a few gleaming dance anthems. Add this one to the latter collection as it’s all about having a good time.
First, the vocals are spot-on. Channeling MJ better than ever, Timberlake’s your host with mostest. He’s lithe, effervescent and relentlessly entertaining. And there’s enough thumping bass to fill the club while a couple of synths noodle away the whole time for color. But what strikes me every time are those strings and horn charts. They’re straight Off the Wall.
It’s like the best session musicians from ’79 are hologrammed in to join JT for an intimate performance. Yet, it’s that film of artifice that leaves me a little cold. Everything’s filtered through the cooling mist of careful digital sampling and programming. It sounds so perfect, but the electricity of live instrumentation’s lost. Though, if everybody’s dancing, you must be doing something right. I’ll gladly start a party with this one, but I’m really looking forward to better in 2 of 2.