Artist: Justin TimberlakeTitle: FutureSex/LoveSoundsRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Kathy Iandoli

The best way to sum up Justin Timberlake is in two simple words: damn lucky. For the most part, the life cycle of an ex-boybander is relatively short and unprogressive (i.e. Ricky Martin). The listening population struggles with the guilt of actually liking the work that eventually there is none left. Such is not the case with Timberlake's

second LP FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive). The album is a praiseworthy production that has placed J.T. in a caliber of the more respectable Pop artists.

The time has finally arrived where no one really remembers that Justin Timberlake was a part of N*Sync. Upon leaving the group to record on

his own, Timberlake released 2002's Justified. The album was good all things considered from the best voice of the former Floridian quintet. It was, however, safe in its Poppy-ness, laden with dancey pickup

lines and post-Britney trauma. His movement as an artist appeared

stagnant and questionable as to whether or not he'd succeed in this

industry simply by being himself.

This time around, Justin Timberlake offers a considerably risky record

that succeeds in its experimentation. The first single "SexyBack" was

the best re-introduction for Timberlake, despite the universe's desire

to abuse the opening line "I'm bringin' sexyback." The title track oozes with the sexiness of George Michael's Faith

era to the tune of super producer Timbaland's chest-thumping digital backbeats. "My

Love" shines on the album beyond the soprano vocals and

modern-meets-new wave synthesizers. It's understood that this is the

new production direction for Timbaland, and while his beats are always

captivating and innovative, most could've easily been interchangeable

with Nelly Furtado's Loose.

The middle marks the changing pace of the record as it loses momentum

once "Chop Me Up" plays. The Southern flair plus Three Six Mafia was

an attempt for street cred, but abrupt nonetheless. Timbaland goes

soft in "Losing My Way" and "Until the End of Time," as he drops the

synthy-funk and reverts to watered-down ballads. Rick Rubin joins him

in "(Another Song) All Over Again," which is especially shocking given

Rubin's unyielding production style. It's unfortunate that the latter

part of the album turns safe with songs more suitable for Usher.

Timberlake manages to shine, but would've faired better had the whole

album remained consistent. Still, FutureSex/LoveSounds is a giant

step forward for Timberlake, and a guarantee that he's here for the

long haul.