Man of the Woods. Bunker of Awesome.


…. and then Bobby walked into the bathroom and Pam knew it was all a dream. No-one shot JR.

Feels like the past 18 months could out-Dallas, Dallas.

Relieving, then, that Justin Timberlake* should release a new album round about now. *Henceforth known as JT.

Here, at the House of Hairbrain – there is no time to dig through crates of vinyl for hidden gems. I leave that to the specialists on MixCloud and always read someone else’s review first; saving myself from the utter inconvenience of being ahead of the pack.

Today is no different. So, after the seventh ‘mixed review’ of a ‘mixed bag’ of an album, it was time to find out what went wrong with JT’s latest work.

Turns out, a whole bag of nothing went wrong and JT is alive and well (if hiding out in a concept-bunker with “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” looped on the Plasma of Survival – and Pharrell wigging out in the corner on a brown acid tab from Woodstock he ‘bought off of eBay’).

Cut to the chase – every track has a berth in the Bunker of Awesome. Man of the Woods will survive Trump (how many on the Axis of Evil can say that?), Man of the Woods will hunt, gather and flavour up his pop with whatever tools he can find, out there, in the hinterland of the Neptunes studio.  True, Perry was quicker off the mark with Chained to the Rhythm but JT is no also-ran here.

Do yourself a favour – to carry this out authentically, you may need some brown leather sofas and shag pile ceiling carpet – and give yourself a good old fashioned concept album listening afternoon, staring at your shoes, nodding ferociously because you DO have a sense of rhythm.

Here are some of my notes – but you can make your own:

Track 1: Filthy – Alice Cooper scores “007: Man of the Woods” before Daft Punk takes over the whoopty whoop machine. JT’s punchy recitative melts into sweet west coast road-mixtape melody. Funky guitar n bass hoves into view before Daft Punk whoops and swoops in aluminium tracksuits. Alice reprises straight outta nowhere. Stop. Turn on a dime to Daft Punk this time sporting Timo Maas  sensibilities. JT is sassy ol’ self (not unlike George Michael in tuneage). Finish with absurdist spoken monologue.

What’s not to love?

(My full album listening notes for the boffins will be posted elsewhere.)

So why the bad press then? Maybe they don’t love Country / West Coast Yacht Rock / Alice Cooper / Pixar-worthy “put you in my left pocket” balladeering? The man was a Mouseketeer!! If anyone is going to put you in his left pocket, it will be JT. And you will enjoy it (promise).

Or maybe they do.

Once upon a time, in a hot, sweaty WWII weatherboard shed (not unlike JTs bunker, sans the acid) on the NSW Uni campus Music Department – one Dr Jill gave us the following essay topic: Is Yothu Yindi’s “Treaty” an Australian aboriginal song with Dance music elements bolted on – or is it a Dance track, with an aboriginal song flavour?

Burning issue, Ethnomusicologists! But for all the whys and wherefores (it was an Aboriginal song primarily) was it a) awesome and b) could you love it if you got out of your own way and gave it a proper listen?

Yes we can.

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