Listen: Justin Timberlake’s reflective new song, ‘Mirrors’

Justin Timberlake”s grown up. On new track “Mirrors,” released today as the follow-up single to “Suit & Tie,” he is completely and utterly in love, but he admits it took him some time to get there.

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The 8-minute track is a paean to wife, Jessica Biel, as he says toward the end, “you are the inspiration for this song.” 

“You are my reflection in everything I do,” he sings. Of their well-publicized troubles before tying the knot last year, he sings, “It was easy coming back to you once I figured it out, you were were right here all along. It”s like you are my mirror…I couldn”t get any bigger with anyone else beside me.” He talks about the promise they”re making to each other as they wed. While it’s sweet and honest, I wonder if she wishes they could keep some stuff private. Probably not when it’s clear he doesn’t take coming to this decision lightly.

The first half of the 8-minute song is awash in lush production with a beatbox rhythm serving as the engine pushing it down the track. There”s a lot going on between the beats, the synths, Timberlake”s processed voice and other assorted interlopers.

Around the 3:50 mark, it breaks down to a capella segment (though heavily processed and layered) accompanied only by handclaps with some extra vocalizations and it”s the most interesting part of the song. Solo strings and the beatbox come back in around 5:10, but about 20 seconds later, a mechanized voice starts chanting, “you are, you are, the love of my life” as Timberlake sings in falsetto that he “says goodbye to the old me… I can”t wait to get you home.”

He and producer Timbaland are clearly defining the different stages of Timberlake”s process when it came to committing to Biel. The remaining 2:30 is a hypnotic interlude that meanders along as if it had all the time in the world. It will be interesting to see where radio cuts it, but I imagine it will be right after the a capella part, as the string part lends itself to a natural fadeout.

Timberlake has now revealed three songs from “The 20/20 Experience”: “Suit & Tie,” “Little Pusher Love Girl” and, now, “Mirrors.”  Though it”s folly to try to divine a theme from a trio of songs, it seems like he is captivated by sounds and sonics more than traditional song structure. None of the songs has a chorus that is particularly catchy, though “Mirrors” comes the closest. Instead, he seems to be going for a broader musical landscape that is deeply influenced by Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, as well as ’70s soul. The songs are confident and feel weighty. They make me want to hear more, but I”m hoping that the album”s mix includes some tunes that are a little less dense.

What do you think of “Mirrors?”