Justin Timberlake is horny. This is the primary conclusion we can reach after listening to his new album, "FutureSex/LoveSounds," which features titles like "Sexy Ladies" and "Damn Girl" and lyrics that leave little to the imagination.
"I'll let you whip me if I misbehave," the formerly squeaky-clean 'N Sync star purrs on the first single, "SexyBack," in which he now famously threatens to bring sexy back, as if it ever went anywhere in the first place. Then again, Prince — clearly one of the major influences here — wasn't exactly subtle about expressing what he wanted in his early days, either. "D.M.S.R." was about dance, music, sex and romance. And that was it.
Repeated listens, though, reveal that Timberlake isn't just a big boy talking a big game. Musically, he has evolved since his 2003 solo debut, "Justified," and while he isn't a completely original force of his own just yet, he's at least smart enough to borrow and blend in creative, ambitious ways. Except for "Losing My Way," an out of place, gospel-tinged tune about a crack addict seeking redemption, the results are insanely catchy.
Having produced and written nearly the entire album with Timbaland and Nate (Danja) Hills, and calling upon the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am and Three 6 Mafia for collaborations, he relies heavily on hip-hop and its predominate themes: checking out the ladies at a club, inviting them back to the VIP room for champagne, enumerating the various things he'd like to do to them as the night progresses.
(Though on "FutureSex/LoveSound," he's enough of a gentleman to ask of his newest conquest: "Do you like it like this? Do you like it like that? Tell me which way you like it.")
The come-on is blunt but fitting, since "FutureSex/LoveSounds" is obviously intended as prime club music — the tracks often flowing one into the next, the beats and bass lines and Timberlake's falsetto layering on top of one other as the songs build to their crescendos. The album could easily be consumed as a whole, something that rarely seems to be the intention anymore: Put it on at the beginning, leave it on until it ends, and that's your whole night right there.
Thematically, it's not all that complicated — not that that's what you're looking for in a dance album. The songs fall into one of two categories:
a) Justin sees a gorgeous girl on the floor and longs to bring her back to the VIP Room and/or just cut to the chase and take her directly home. This is the main thrust of "LoveStoned," the best song on the disc, which begins as a lustful urge before shifting keys and morphing beautifully into something wistful.
b) Justin is at sea over a loss of love and he longs to reconcile and/or revel in the suffering of the woman who spurned him. In this vein, "What Goes Around" sounds almost like a remake of his own "Cry Me a River," Timberlake's musical dig at Britney Spears after their relationship fell apart. He's dating Cameron Diaz! He couldn't possibly still be bitter ... could he?
As ideal as "FutureSex/LoveSounds" would be as the soundtrack for a night of partying, though, it might function even more effectively as getting-ready-to-go-out music. You know — you're blasting something on the stereo as you're picking out a cute little number to wear, applying mascara and lip gloss and getting psyched up for whatever adventure lies in store.
Justin is there for you, making you feel like the hottest girl on the dance floor, even before you leave the house. Maybe he is bringing sexy back after all.