After teasing it for weeks, Justin Timberlake’s fifth album, Man of the Woods dropped yesterday, just ahead of the star’s Super Bowl performance this Sunday.
Timberlake was already roasted on Twitter after he released the album’s artwork and tracklist, but now that the full-length is out, it doesn’t look like the star is going to catch a break — the reviews for Man of the Woods are already in and they’re overwhelmingly negative. Timberlake’s take on country was deemed unconvincing by many critics, and Pitchfork went as far as to say the album is so bad it calls into question Timberlake’s superstar status.
Read our roundup of the reviews below, then stream Man of the Woods here.
The (mostly) good
Christopher R. Weingarten / Rolling Stone
“Parts of Man of the Woods are his most exploratory music in years, whether it’s the skippy, juddering avant-funk or making meaningful modern countrypolitan without sounding like a disco ball in a Solo cup. It’s not perfect, but you can’t raise a barn without getting your hands dirty.”
Ilana Kaplan / The Independent (U.K.)
“With his fifth studio album, Timberlake isn’t re-inventing the wheel, but he solidly continues to experiment with R&B, funk, pop and soul, with Americana creating an interesting layer.”
Neil McCormick / The Telegraph (U.K.)
“Man of the Woods pitches unevenly between town and country, with folky campfire songs about the joys of nature arranged around electronic rhythms and electro funk. The two strains don’t really get along. When it’s bad, it’s cringe-inducing. But when it’s good, it’s world-beating.”
Leonie Cooper / NME
“There’s definitely a nod to new Nashville here–however, we’re talking more Mumford & Sons if they started songwriting for Justin Bieber than the grit and guts of Waylon Jennings or the current king of classic country, Sturgill Simpson.”
Alexis Petridis / The Guardian
“The good bits are great, the bad bits best avoided, but in a pop world where originality isn’t much encouraged, there’s something really laudable about the intention behind it, and its author’s willingness to think outside the box.”
Maeve McDermott / USA Today
“Man of the Woods, while certainly not 2018’s worst album, is further evidence that Timberlake is far from the pop music innovator he once was.”
Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune
“Too often, Timberlake sounds adrift.”
Mikael Wood / LA Times
“Expertly appointed but emotionally inert homage to the place that he says made him.”
Jamieson Cox / Pitchfork
“Man of the Woods is a misstep large enough to merit relitigating Justin Timberlake’s status as a pop superstar.”
Jon Caramanica/ The New York Times
“We are now approaching the 12th year of the national delusion that Justin Timberlake remains an essential pop star.”
Chase McMullen / The 405
“Haters gonna say it’s fake,” Timberlake frankly asserts on, ‘Filthy’. They needn’t even bother. Genuine or not, it simply doesn’t work.
Craig Jenkins / Vulture
“At its worst, Man of the Woods is like eavesdropping on conversations between the kinds of couples who go out in matching outfits.”
In other music news, Spotify adds producer and songwriter credits after unpaid royalties controversy.
- Main & Featured Image: Christopher Polk / Getty Images for EIF