Justin Timberlake‘s fifth studio album Man of the Woods is a celebration of matrimony and fatherhood. He’s swooning over his wife Jessica Biel, honoring her with tender odes and sweet nothings. It’s a honeymooners album that delves into all the tender moments shared between two young lovers. As innocent and lovely as it is, it represents Timberlake’s worst effort to date; a nauseating excursion that has him embracing mediocre writing at every turn.

What’s most damaging to the album is the multiple genres being embraced. It’s bold, but poorly executed. The contrasts are too jarring, and the lack of continuity makes for a disjointed listen. Timberlake has dismissed the idea of it being a country album, which is true. It’s not. What it is is a pop album that just so happens to embrace country. And r&b and funk, which in the end is too much for him to handle. Even The Neptunes can’t reconcile the madness. Man of the Woods shows maturation, but lacks refinement. A disappointing effort in need of some serious edits.

Filthy

After a long hiatus, JT makes a triumphant return to the main stage; fully embracing his pop roots. He reunites with Timbaland and Danja who meticulously craft a futuristic beat for him to let loose over. It’s all about the groove, and he ensures its marketability by keeping the lyrics lighthearted and fun. He’s seducing his girl and he wants her to put her hands all over him. Down and dirty: [LISTEN]

Midnight Summer Jam

Forget winter, JT is already making a bid for summer. There’s not a cloud in the sky, and the stars are shining bright, twinkling just for him and his lady. Romance is in the air and he wants to capitalize off the whimsy by throwing an all out dance party. He hits that all too famous falsetto, letting the homies and ladies know that it’s on; the groove taking them into the night and beyond: [LISTEN]

Sauce

An awkward and somewhat sleazy combination of country, soul and pop. It’s not a totally uncommon smattering of flavors, but one that is poorly executed; constructed haphazardly and without tact. The woman in his life is a maneater, and her mere presence is enough to short circuit his hard drive. For the average schmuck it’s too much to handle, but JT is digging deep and going all out: [LISTEN]

Man of the Woods

JT sidesteps away from traditional soul and inches closer to the country side of the pop spectrum. It’s goofy and hokey, and not what you’d expect from someone trying to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jackson. The overall sound is what you’d hear if Waffle House was transformed into a style music, and JT is unable to salvage any sort of groove or narrative. An ambitious but colossal flop: [LISTEN]

Higher Higher

The smokey guitar adds a Parliament feel, creating a darker atmosphere for JT to croon over. The money, fame and power are intoxicating, but it doesn’t compare to the love he’s feeling for his lady. She’s a special cookie and he wants to let her know that he is as devoted to her as he is to his music. She is his muse and every fiber in him yearns for her, a sweet ode full of tender kisses: [LISTEN]

Wave

A multitude of styles reflect his willingness to venture out and try new things. There is a distinct island vibe that makes the entire effort feel like a lazy day at the beach. He’s riding the waves, both literal and figurative. It’s making him drunk with desire, sun-kissed and ready to bring on the night. Paradise is within arm’s reach, and he’s hoping a soft hand will reach back: [LISTEN]

Supplies

The world is coming to an end and with resources dwindling JT is letting his lady know that he will provide all the necessary supplies for survival. He will be her heat and light and when times are tough, a source of love that will sustain them forever. The beat is minimal and dark, meant to simulate a post-apocalyptic domain where no one is safe. He’s a hero looking for a damsel in distress: [LISTEN]

Morning Light

Simple strumming and sweet, southern bell melodies announce a new beginning. His heart is throbbing, open and willing to accept love into his life. She is his morning light and everyday with her is a day in heaven. He’s digging deep and letting her know that anything she wants he will provide. She’s his forever and when they’re together the harsh realities of life get a little easier to handle: [LISTEN]

Say Something

JT is feeling the holy spirit and exalting the power of music in the process. He’s embracing country and pop as the foundation, creating a new venture for him to be inspired by. The acoustics are warm and light, but then fellow superstar Chris Stapleton enters the fray and all hell breaks loose. It’s a magical hoedown that has both expressing their desire to break free and create: [LISTEN]

Hers (Interlude)

A soft interlude that has his wifey expressing her love and admiration. She’s melting in his arms like butter, and the soft piano is a reflection of the tenderness she feels for him. It’s a brief break in the action that shows the world who his muse is, and by the sounds of it it is a mutual attraction that transcends fame and fortune: [LISTEN]

Flannel

Tenderhearted musings from a man who is madly in love. There’s a warm, campfire vibe that has him comparing the comfort to a well-worn piece of flannel. He’s there to guide her through the tough times, and he’s letting her know that she will always be in his heart. The love is consuming them both, and the bond they have is growing stronger everyday. A delicate ode made of peaches and cream: [LISTEN]

Montana

He’s smitten by love, so much so that every facet of his life has been enhanced; water is sweeter, the sun is brighter and all the darkness has faded away. The new perspective has made him humbler in his approach, and while it’s not the old JT people are used to it does reflect growth and maturation. He’s going all in betting on love, hoping that in the end the gamble will pay off: [LISTEN]

Breeze Off the Pond

He and wifey are living the fairy-tale life; canoeing in a pond, exchanging loving glances as the breeze blows softly. Neither of them have a care in the world, and the only thing they have to worry about is who’s going to roll the next joint. Romance is his inspiration, and without her he has nothing. They are indulging in each other and savoring every moment. Pure bliss from two love birds: [LISTEN]

Livin’ Off the Land

JT adopts the lumberjack persona, explaining how hard it is for a blue collar joe like him. It’s a strange approach to take, considering the lofty ideas that preceded it. He’s calling a night in the studio making music back breaking work, which is a stretch even for him. The idea is that he takes his craft seriously, but there’s not enough weight in the statement to make it resound: [LISTEN]

Hard Stuff

Forget the sunny days, cool breezes and chirping sparrows, JT wants the hard love; the kind of romance that embraces all facets of life, both the good and bad. He’s taking on the simple country bumpkin approach, an altogether laughable persona that shows he’s still caught up in the honeymoon phase. The beat is simple and sparse, a bland effort that is woefully uninspiring: [LISTEN]

Young Man

Closing out the album with a tender ode to his son. The little one is barely old enough to talk, but JT is making sure that he gives as much love and advice as possible. He’s hoping that when his boy gets older he’ll listen to these words wisdom and take them to heart. JT is taking the husband and father role seriously, which is admirable but doesn’t necessarily translate to good music: [LISTEN]