Michael Jackson's Xscape may not be released until next month but the new posthumous release from the late pop star has already fallen into the hands of critics who have given the brand new collection of songs a first listen verdict. Featuring eight previously unreleased songs, the new album will be released in May, announced the executive producer L.A. Reid.

Michael Jackson Xscape Cover
Michael Jackson's Latest Posthumous Album, 'Xscape,' Will Be Released On The 13th May.

"Michael left behind some musical performances that we take great pride in presenting through the vision of music producers that he either worked directly with or expressed strong desire to work with," the former US X Factor judge said in a statement, via Billboard. "We are extremely proud and honored to present this music to the world."

Song titles from the Timbaland-curated album have not yet been released the album was played in full at a secret London-based playback last week. The Guardian's Michael Cragg wrote that "Xscape is leagues ahead of Michael, [...] Opening with a burst of disco-tinged soul, it's an album that seems to focus on songs from pre-90s Jackson, with the first song a light and airy take on the effortless Off the Wall era.

"With a youthful-sounding Jackson skipping in-between expensive-sounding production, it's reminiscent, somewhat ironically, of Justin Timberlake, especially his The 20/20 Experience double album," the critic added. He also notes that whilst the new tunes are undoubtedly contemporary, "there are times when the production overwhelms songs that are perhaps not sturdy enough to support the added superstructure."

The Telegraph's Bernadette McNulty argues that Xscape's clean production sound only serves to alienate the listener from the King of Pop: "The singer's posthumous releases [.] have ironically only served to make Jackson feel more dead, the lifeless songs lurching and thudding with the grace of Frankenstein's monster, animated purely by brute studio (and commercial) force rather than organic impulses."

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"Most of Xscape nods back to the height of Jackson's pop appeal," says Digital Spy's Lewis Corner. "[The tracks'] final form echoes MJ's holy trinity of albums Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad. The fifth song we were played opens with computerized synths, [...] echoed snare beats and a storming rawk guitar solo make it one of the stand-out tracks, even if the chorus does hear him dubiously ask: "Do you know where your children are?""

Newsbeat's Chi Chi Izundu says "The first track harks back to Jackson doing disco and doing it well; from that point you get a feel for the production. Think 90s RnB, when it was good." The reporter also notes darkly that "The song, probably set to cause controversy is the one called 'Do You Know Where Your Children Are?' Which apparently was Michael's response to the child abuse allegations against him in the noughties."

Michael Jackson's Xscape will be released on the 13th May by Epic Records.

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