Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie (feat. Jay-Z)” Isn’t A Comeback, But It’s Still Nice

Justin Timberlake

It’s been just under 6 years since we last heard anything new from the greatest Justin of Pop, Justin Timberlake.

(Solo, that is–he’s popped up as a featured act on tracks with T.I., Timbaland, Madonna, Esmee Denters and Ciara now and again over the years.)

Ever since his grand masterpiece–2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, which continues to sound fresh to this day–Timberlake’s been nothing short of a tease, acting in several films (including that Social Network one), hosting SNL a few times, going golfing and getting married to people who aren’t named Britney Spears.

But after one last tease last week on his official website, he’s officially back.

Last night, JT dropped “Suit & Tie (feat. Jay-Z),” the first taste of Timberlake’s forthcoming comeback record, The 20/20 Experience (which I’m assuming is not a reference to the American TV news broadcast–though I wouldn’t mind a Barbara Walters cameo in the least.)

First, let’s level set:

+ This is not the new “Like I Love You.”
+ This is not the new “Rock Your Body.”
+ This is not the new “Cry Me A River.”
+ This is not the new “SexyBack.”

The song was co-written by Justin, Timbaland, Jay-Z, Jerome “J-ROC” Harmon and James Fauntleroy. If you’re doing your comeback track homework, you’ll note that Fauntleroy, one of the producers on Timberlake’s Tennman Records label, also co-wrote Destiny’s Child‘s brand new release, “Nuclear.”

Backed by Timbaland’s signature heavy horns (oh hey, “4 Minutes”), Justin and Timba (ugh, get off the track!) glide across a lazy, chugging beat: “I be on my suit and tie shit, tie shit/Can I show you a few things?” JT moans on repeat during the intro.

The actual song kicks in about 45 seconds later, full of swirling piano flourishes and joyous brass sections while Timberlake merrily croons his affections, bringing throwback mac daddy Robin Thicke to mind. “Stop, now let me get a good look at it/So thick, now I know why they call it a fatty.” Such a gentleman! Jay-Z’s inclusion later on is, of course, entirely needless, but hey–having Hova’s name attached won’t hurt to get a few more ears on the track.

“Suit & Tie” probably isn’t the revelation that most expected from Justin after over half a decade (if the over-the-top outcry on Twitter last night was any indication, anyway–looking at you, Perez), and would probably be much better off if it’s quietly billed as a ‘buzz single.’ And even though the production is somewhat dazzling, the familiar bells and whistles (but mostly, the horns) are proof that Timbaland hasn’t progressed far past 2006.

Still, it’s a solid, sexy jam that captures JT at his friskiest, filled with silky-smooth serenading and Timberlake’s signature brand of playful, cocky charm. Go on, give it a few plays and let it marinate–it’s a grower, not a shower.

The track is now streaming over at new Myspace and is available on iTunes.

And while you’re at it, check out my experience talking to Justin about his involvement in Myspace (and new music) a few months ago in LA.

“Suit & Tie (feat. Jay-Z)” was released on January 14. (iTunes)

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