Just in time for sexiness, Timberlake returns

Justin Timberlake goes from PG-13 to a racy R rating on his new album

by Sara Nicole Miller

The days of “Mickey Mouse Club” and boy band extravaganzas are officially over.

The moment the music from Justin Timberlake’s new album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds” wafts in your ear, it becomes clear that the old curly-haired skin of N’Sync has finally been shed. He’s grown up, he’s getting down and he’s super horny.

The former “Tiger Beat” poster boy, who used to get off on singing things like “God must have spent a little more time on you,” now finds satisfaction in belting out lyrics like “I’ll let you whip me if I misbehave” on his new single “SexyBack.”

It’s quite a far cry from the G-rated material of “Tearing Up My Heart.” Justin exposes himself as a sinful, lusty and very naughty boy, and he’s not afraid to tell you.

“FutureSex/LoveSounds” is the second album of Justin’s solo career. While his first solo album, “Justified,” was an assortment of suggestive love ballads and musical foreplay, this album features a young man intent on sowing his wild oats. His evolving musical style ranges from soaring falsetto to funky keyboard vamping to slinky layers of overproduced ballads.

Individually, the songs sound like something out of the hideously sinful soundtrack to the sequined meat markets of downtown nightclubs. However, when played in sequence, even the most prudish folks will be overcome with nightclub nostalgia for sweaty bodies and tush grinding.

Most of the album is produced by Timbaland, who is so musically fly he could turn a wad of chewed bubble gum into a pop megastar. But the album wouldn’t be the lascivious, futuristic-R&B success it is if Justin couldn’t deliver the goods.

“FutureSex/LoveSounds” also boasts a solid cache of guest artists, such as T.I. on “My Love” and the sizzurp-sippin’ Three 6 Mafia on “Chop Me Up,” which infuses the tracks with both the suavity of vintage soul and the country-fried, crispy twang of Southern hip-hop.

The album’s emotional centerpiece clearly is “What Goes Around Ö Comes Around.” It’s the sequel to “Cry Me A River,” except this time around Justin loses the screechy, self-pitying symphony and opts for a more devious “you got what you deserved” type of satisfaction. Obviously, he’s alluding to Britney’s wretched, barefoot-and-pregnant shadow of a domestic life.

Alas, the album isn’t all booties and bangin’ on the regular. In one track, Justin attempts to pump out a gospel-infused narrative of a crack-head named Bob. Melodramatic and cheesy, it fails miserably.

Just stick to being sexy, Justin.

No matter how naughty his lines are, Justin is still a nice guy. He’s again proved himself as an ambitious, dark and dirty artist who rounds it out with clever style.

As seen on “Justified,” there is still some tension between what sells on the charts and his own creative aspirations, but he borrows and blends it nicely. In his personal process of reinvention, little is left to the listeners’ imagination.