‘Man of the Woods’ explores new sounds

Pop icon Justin Timberlake released his much anticipated mixed-genre album “Man of the Woods” Feb. 2, five years after his last release.

The 16-track album combines elements of Timberlake’s traditional fast-paced and upbeat techno-pop R&B sound with more traditional country and blues compositions.

“Man of the Woods” attempts to blend Timberlake’s melodic and longing vocals with classic guitar progressions and the dance-worthy electronic drum beats that fans know from him.

With this said, the album succeeds in some aspects and utterly fails in others.

“Man of the Woods” lacks a defining tone for listeners to hear. The newfound country dynamic is more often in conflict with Timberlake’s pop-based vocal foundation than it is in harmony. The clash of sounds brings down the album’s quality as a whole and renders many of the tracks skippable.

The incoherence of the album is its most defining characteristic. Some of the songs seem to follow an overarching theme, while others take Timberlake fans to previously unexplored territory.

The jumbled collection of songs rob the album of its authenticity and perfectly demonstrate how not to broaden one’s musical horizons.

The album opens with the track “Filthy,” a disorienting combination of funky bass riffs and power ballad electric guitar, with a dubstep-like leading melody. The song could be seen as a metaphor for the rest of the album through its feeble attempt to combine opposing musical styles. The result is nothing short of befuddling aural chaos.

While a majority of the songs on “Man of the Woods” are out of place, not all of them are bad. The fifth track, “Higher Higher,” returns the listener to the Timberlake fans all know and love, making use of Timberlake’s tenor vocal range and elegantly complemented by an electro-pop beat and deconstructed guitar riffs.

The eighth track on the album, “Morning Light,” manages to capture what Timberlake was aiming for with the rest of “Man of the Woods.” The song features Alicia Keys and finds a great spot in Timberlake’s world of genre-bending sounds. Striking the ear as a light-hearted and soulful song about hope and young love, the track is easy to listen to and very reminiscent of a Disney classic.

I give “Man of the Woods” two-and-a-half stars out of five for its lack of consistency. While some fans may praise Timberlake for branching out and exploring new avenues of music, I find the album a mess of disjointed sounds that fails to capitalize on his well-known talent.