YouKnowIGotSoul Logo
Album Review Edward Bowser

Album Review: Justin Timberlake “The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2” (4 stars out of 5)

justin-timberlake-2020-part-2

Words by Edward T. Bowser, SoulInStereo.com

Justin Timberlake is determined to make 2013 the Year of JT.

Y’all know the story: After seven years of relative silence, Justin roared back on the music scene this spring with his highly anticipated (and largely satisfying) comeback album The 20/20 Experience. Then he absolutely stole the show at the MTV VMAs, becoming the only person alive close enough to touch the King of Pop’s vacant crown.

JT is going for the hat trick with The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2, the second half of his comeback opus.

Whereas the first edition embraced a more mature pop sound, the follow-up harkens back to the Timberlake of old – tons of energy and innuendo with super-producer Timbaland playing hype man. It’s the old JT you fell for years ago.

I mentioned Michael Jackson earlier and it’s no secret that JT emulates MJ at every turn. First single “Take Back The Night” makes you want to strut down the street while Lite-Brite tiles flicker beneath your feet. Once those horns kick in, the energy becomes undeniable.

The album’s production is the real star here – no surprise considering the company JT usually keeps. “Gimmie What I Don’t Know (I Want) is filled with hand claps while wild animals – elephants, tigers and wild Timbos – yell in the background. “True Blood” is accentuated with howls, wails and distorted vocals; “Drink You Away” steers away from the usual hyperactive production – JT croons between electric guitars and organs while being haunted by the past.

Sonically, the album is top-notch. But on the other hand, there’s no new ground being broken. While the previous album seemed to push JT – and the genre in itself – in a new direction, creatively 2 of 2 seems to halt that progress.

Still, I find myself being a hypocrite. Justin’s never been known as a strong writer but the boxing metaphors on “TKO” are almost amateurish in their simplicity. But the energy the track evokes keeps me hanging around for more. I wish there were a few more risks taken, like the sultry yet playful “You Got It On,” an stunning performance that has JT fawning over his lady. Fellas, this is gonna be your girl’s favorite song. The sweeping “Amnesia” also gets more interesting as the track continues to evolve.

Speaking of evolving tracks, JT’s signature 45-minute song outros really start to wear out their welcome here. The aforementioned 11-minute “True Blood” goes on seemingly forever and the screamy “Only When I Walk Away” is even worse, needlessly shifting direction and dragging on eternally. Chill, JT, nothing will top “I Think That She Knows.”

Side note: Am I the only one who noticed that Jay-Z had a really hard time catching the beat on “Murder?” He sounded like the tired old uncle trying to keep up with his nephews on the basketball court. Meanwhile, was Drake really singing a Lil’ Boosie song on “Cabaret?” Makes me wish Timbaland kept on making his weird animal noises instead.

I’m sorry to report that The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 is probably Justin’s worst album – at times sounding like a bunch of bonus tracks from the previous album rather than a complete, standalone set.

But the good news is that even on his worst day Justin is light-years ahead of his peers. The production is too strong. The energy is too infectious.

The experience is too unforgettable.

Best tracks: “Take Back the Night,” “You Got It On,” “TKO”

4 stars out of 5

Can’t get enough of Edd? For more album reviews, relationship talk, pop culture news and Keith Sweat hero worship, visit SoulInStereo.com and follow him on Twitter @etbowser.

3 COMMENTS

  1. i agree with the review. I wasn’t a huge fan of part 1 with mirrors being the only stand out track for me and a couple of the tracks just feeling like fillers. Part 2 continued this feeling for me but without the amazing song to replicate mirrors. I think the 2 albums could have easily been compressed into 1 album which i would probably consider a great album. As for the outros, i loved them on FS/LS and would happily welcome them on every track if they were good and added to the track but i agree that he has started to over do them now as none of the outros really add to the songs.

  2. I completely agree with your review – but I don’t understand why you gave it 4 out of 5? I agree that many of the tracks are too long. I applaud musicians who include longer tracks that build or go somewhere new – but extending every track is overkill – especially as often they don’t really go anywhere. Some highlights but just not enough variety to keep me interested on 2/2 – can’t see it holding my attention for long.

    • Good point, Lee. I think if you judge the album against JT’s other works, it would get a 3.5/5 at the most. It followed some extremely tough acts. But judging it on its own, I still think it has merit. It’s too long and too unfocused but it’s still a solid release. It won’t be something you’ll be playing a year from now, though.

LEAVE A RESPONSE

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *