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Justin Timberlake gets his groove back — and reunites with *NSYNC — on comeback album

Justin Timberlake
After 2018's "Man of of the Woods," Justin Timberlake is a Man of the Dance Floor again on his new album.

It’s been six long years since Justin Timberlake’s last studio album, 2018’s “Man of the Woods,” on which the pop superstar got his Americana on.

But many of the fans who had rocked their bodies to his previous hit LPs — from 2002’s “Justified” to 2006’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds” to 2013’s “The 20/20 Experience” — weren’t feeling the flannel on JT.

And, by his lofty standards, “Man of the Woods” was the first (relative) flop of his career. It was the first real misstep from a man who had seemed to have all the right moves as he smoothly grooved from curly haired boy-bander to sexy-MFing solo sensation.

But on “Everything I Thought It Was,” Timberlake, now 43,  is back to being a Man of the Dance Floor, a Man of the Bedroom and even, once again, a Man of the Boy Band.(Yup, *NSYNC is back!)

Suffice to say, Chris Stapleton is nowhere to be found on this joint.

Justin Timberlake reunites with *NSYNC on “Paradise,” the penultimate cut on his new LP “Everything I Thought It Was.” Getty Images
Justin Timberlake reunites with *NSYNC on “Paradise,” the penultimate cut on his new LP “Everything I Thought It Was.” Getty Images

Clearly, Timberlake is trying — almost desperately — to make up for lost time on his sixth solo LP, which stretches out to 77 minutes.

And no, it’s not a double album.

Just to give you some perspective, that’s over twice as long as Ariana Grande’s “Eternal Sunshine” — a far more cohesive and concise pop album that came out just a week ago.

When the opener “Memphis” — a nostalgic nod to Timberlake’s hometown that is basically an intro — takes its sweet time to unfold over four and a half minutes of moody hip-hop, you know you’re in for a long haul.

Justin Timberlake’s “Everything I Thought It Was” is his first album since 2018. ICON
Justin Timberlake’s “Everything I Thought It Was” is his first album since 2018. ICON

Timberlake’s sprawling scope shifts focus from the retro disco, funk and soul-pop of “Play” and new single “No Angels”  — which hark back to his best album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds” — to the sexy slow-jamming of “What Lovers Do” and the Prince-esque “Love & War.”

He even ambitiously attempts to mix gospel, rock and hip-hop on “Sanctified” (featuring Tobe Nwigwe) — but alas, this track can’t be saved.

Justin Timberlake re-teams with longtime producers Timbaland and Danja on his new LP “Everything I Thought It Was.”
Justin Timberlake re-teams with longtime producers Timbaland and Danja on his new LP “Everything I Thought It Was.”

And the final section of the album finds Timberlake looking back to his past with the romantic innocence of first single “Selfish” and the long-awaited *NSYNC reunion on “Paradise” that is the sweetest of throwbacks.

But while old-school steppers such as “F–kin’ Up the Disco” still hit the sumptuous spot for Timberlake — the man and his producers, led by longtime collaborators Timbaland and Danja, know how to make the dreamiest of soundscapes — other attempts to revive past glory days aren’t as successful.

“Drown” fails to recapture the beat-tastic magic of its smash predecessors “Cry Me a River” and “What Goes Around … Comes Around,” and “My Favorite Drug” can’t match the intoxicating high of “LoveStoned.”

Justin Timberlake reunited with *NSYNC at the MTV Video Music Awards last September and again on his new album. Getty Images for MTV
Justin Timberlake reunited with *NSYNC at the MTV Video Music Awards last September and again on his new album. Getty Images for MTV

But the seven-plus-minute “Technicolor” does succeed in bringing back the two-part shape-shifting of “FutureSex/LoveSounds” tracks such as “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows” and “Sexy Ladies/Let Me Talk to You.”

In the end, there’s probably a much better 50-minute album inside of “Everything I Thought It Was.” As it is, it feels like a deluxe LP filled out with all the bonus tracks that weren’t quite good enough to make the main affair.

Still, after six years away, too much Justin is better than none at all.