"When are you going to start making music again?"
That's the question reporters have been asking Justin Timberlake ever since he released his last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, back in 2006. This week, JT had a big announcement: The wait is over.
He released a new single and announced that his third studio album, The 20/20 Experience, will be released sometime in 2013. First, let's get to the new track. It's called "Suit & Tie" and features a brief cameo by none other than Jay-Z. The song is about (surprise) the joys of formalwear and busting dance moves in said formalwear, guaranteeing it a spot on every wedding DJ's playlist for the next five years.
Is it his best work? Not quite. Despite the fact that it was produced by his longtime collaborator Timbaland, it lacks the aggressive sonic edge of hits like "My Love" and "SexyBack" that separated him from less adventurous pop stars. Still, it's a breezy, joyous dance number with a seventies-soul spirit, filled with horns and Timberlake's stellar falsetto. While Jay-Z's verse feels a little tacked-on, at least he takes the time to name-drop some fashion giants like Tom Ford, Alexander Wang, and AllSaints.
As for when we will get to hear the rest of The 20/20 Experience, Timberlake reveals very little in a note to fans, saying only that the album is "coming out this year" and adding "That's all I'm giving you for now… I know, I know! Again, with the teasing!!!"
He does, however, reveal that he started working on it during June of 2012—a good six years after the release of his last album. During that gap he padded his IMDB stats with movies like The Social Network and Friends With Benefits, created a few viral hits with Andy Samberg on SNL, invested in a few restaurants and Internet ventures, and, as befits a man of his station, took up the game of golf.
Through it all he never stopped being a style icon. If his new song is any indication, that's not likely to change anytime soon.
—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him at @kwagstaff.