AOTY 2021

Man of the Woods

Justin Timberlake - Man of the Woods
Critic Score
Based on 32 reviews
2018 Ratings: #843 / 851
User Score
Based on 613 ratings
2018 Ratings: #798
Liked by 2 people
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Entertainment Weekly

Whatever all the sheepskin and heritage talk promised — a manifesto on manhood, marriage, and intimacy; a megastar stripped back to his roots — isn’t really what Woods delivers. Instead it’s a grab bag of styles and sonic mood boards.

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.

A.V. Club

Unfortunately, Man Of The Woods’ thematic depth hasn’t quite caught up to the rest of his ambition. It’s not a fatal flaw, but it does make for a record that’s not quite as transcendent as it was built up to be.

Consequence of Sound

Bad timing for his fifth solo album, Man of the Woods, a funky, country-laced experiment that’s not nearly as bad as its already damned reputation suggests. Though the lyrics might be.

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.
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.
The Independent

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. Man of the Woods does make certain that Timberlake will never stop challenging himself to enter into new territory.

The Telegraph

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.


Ultimately the album is three or four songs too long, but Man Of The Woods is rarely less than entertaining. Too slick to be a genuine man of ‘rough’, Timberlake nevertheless continues to lead the way in his field, even if he does so without consistently reaching the greatness he so clearly strives for.

Pretty Much Amazing

Add this to Taylor Swift’s recent Reputation as a surprisingly unhandsome contribution from a great pop star.

Sorry to say, Justin, if you’re trying to get us to believe that you are truly a “Man of the Woods,” you definitely missed the target. This album is the vocal equivalent of glamping, and it will be hard to convince anyone otherwise.

Loosely inspired by his Southern upbringing but recorded primarily in Los Angeles, Man of the Woods resembles the soundtrack to a late-evening variety program that moves across departments of a high-end outdoor recreation outfitter.


Immaculately produced and performed, it's hard to imagine Man of the Woods not being a hit, its tracks a steady stream for playlist fodder. But sound and feel are no substitute for soul.

Slant Magazine

Man of the Woods is a bland exercise in the monogenre; its rustic forest scene is made of Astroturf and PVC plastic.

Tiny Mix Tapes

Man of the Woods, barely able to imagine a future without its self, (always) anticipates a tomorrow with the loves that keeps it moving. It is an audacious yet deeply flawed document of thens and nexts, a hope for fuck and a shrug at real resistance, a prayer to a child and an inquiry into hoping.

Time Out London
Timberlake has been touting 'Man of the Woods' as a very personal album. If that's the case, beyond being a little bit flirty and a little bit dirty, we're not entirely sure if there's much else going on down there, among the trees...
NOW Magazine
The album doesn’t sound phoned in, necessarily, but it absolutely sounds vacuous, vapid and clichéd.

To summarise, Man of the Woods is an astoundingly poor, inconsistent, and sloppily constructed outing from an artist whose defining feature has been his ability to cleanly reinvent his image.

The Observer
Tunes-wise, Timberlake’s return to his roots is partial.
For all its best intentions, ‘Man of the Woods’ often feels rushed, occasionally underproduced and at times, unfinished. Lacking the effortless polish of previous releases, it troughs more than peaks and ends up floundering in its own ambition.
The Skinny
In an age of fake news, Insta filters and fraudulent politics there’s nothing worse than being accused of fakery, but the problem with Timberlake’s elaborate, 16-track effort to persuade us of his realness isn’t that it’s fake – it’s that it’s objectively bad.
Drowned in Sound
Pop’s modern-day pioneer may have set out into the woods, but in failing to prepare and engage his audience honestly, he ends up lost and attempting to navigate back home using crude and outdated tools.

Previously Timberlake has confounded expectations, both in his solo work and even as far back as his boyband days as resident heartthrob in NSYNC. But Man of the Woods is stuck in the past; guilty of basically being a JT nostalgia-fest, a compilation of familiar and safe tracks that encompass all the stuff that the boys think you like Justin Timberlake doing.


It’s remarkable how few ideas are contained within this hour-plus Blue Ridge Mountains mood board of an album. Man of the Woods is a misstep large enough to merit relitigating Justin Timberlake’s status as a pop superstar.

The 405

His latest album, portrayed dramatically as a grand return – as well as some ambiguous, imagined “return to his roots” (sigh) – Man of the Woods, could more accurately be titled 'What Happened?: The Album'.

Northern Transmissions
What’s clearly meant as a back-to-basics exercise in authenticity comes off as shallow and poorly thought out, a grab bag of tracks sampling gospel, country, folk, and funk that proves about as rugged as a stripper in a lumberjack costume.

While Timberlake can't be faulted for wanting to try something genuinely new this far into his career, the laziness of the productions and overall misguided lyrics make for an awkward fit.

The Needle Drop
A buffet of shit: Justin Timberlake's new album is most likely the most horrendous cross-section of contemporary sounds you're going to hear this year.
Spectrum Culture

Man of the Woods is not merely his worst but quite possibly the worst statement by a major pop star this decade.

Not good. Not good at all but it will probably win a fucking grammy.
Someone in the comments said this was worse than the new Fall Out Boy album...

I thought they were joking...
Justin wanted to wear a flannel and be a man of the woods, but he also likes trap and showing up in slick clothing at the red carpet, so he called in Pharrell and said "let's do the same I've been doing forever, but throw in a few major-scale acoustic guitars and call it an intimate album this time, ok?"

"Higher Higher" and "Montana" are catchy, though.
Man of the Woods.

Man of the Woods is the first and only era of Justin Timberlake's career that was condemned from every angle imaginable. Whatever time frame you think of, whether it be during the time he was the face of best boy band NSYNC, or the SexyBack and Timbaland era, where his dominance could be truly felt, or the still very successful 20/20 Experience era, Justin Timberlake was able to dodge controversy after controversy and continue to make mountains of money. But, judging by the ... read more
Well its nice to have a stand-out worst-aoty so early on, at least.
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Track List

  1. Filthy
  2. Midnight Summer Jam
  3. Sauce
  4. Man of the Woods
  5. Higher Higher
  6. Wave
  7. Supplies
  8. Morning Light (feat. Alicia Keys)
  9. Say Something (feat. Chris Stapleton)
  10. Hers (Interlude)
  11. Flannel
  12. Montana
  13. Breeze Off the Pond
  14. Livin' Off the Land
  15. The Hard Stuff
  16. Young Man
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Added on: January 2, 2018