Album review: Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2”

Album review: Justin Timberlake's

Kaitlyn McCurdy

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Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2” released on Sept. 27.
Source: justintimberlake.com

by Kaitlyn McCurdy

In March 2013, Justin Timberlake released “The 20/20 Experience,” and within a week, it sold 968,000 copies. As of September, it has sold 2,218,000 copies.

Now, we have “The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2.”

Considering the praise and commercial success of part one, JT’s new album has exponentially higher expectations by not only critics, but fans as well. However, we all know that most sequels don’t live up to the original. So, can JT do it? Can part two be just as good, if not better than, “The 20/20 Experience?”

Let’s find out. Here’s a track by track breakdown of “The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2.”

“Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)”

The opening track is seductive and confident, with an upbeat, catchy instrumental and passionate vocals. JT automatically grabs your attention by crooning “sounds are calm / when we became the animals that we’re made in the jungle.” The track sets the album up for a sexier tone than part one. JT’s off to a fantastic start.

“True Blood”

Clocking in at nine and a half minutes, this is the second longest track on the album. You can tell. While the instrumental isn’t boring, per say, it is incredibly busy and the song drags on for far too long. The last three minutes are almost an entirely new song, a staple of JT’s music from both “FutureSex/LoveSounds” and “The 20/20 Experience.” Still, if there’s one track you skip, let it be this one.

“Cabaret”

The beat to the third track is, once again, repetitive, but considering the track is only four and a half minutes, I can deal with it. I was pleasantly surprised by just how perfectly Drake’s rap fits in with the rest of the song, and he was the perfect person for JT to collaborate on this one. Decent, but nothing too special.

“TKO”

As the album’s second single, “TKO” stands out as possibly the catchiest song on the entire album. The track is a modernized update of similar sounds from “Justified” and “FutureSex/LoveSounds.” It’s absolutely irresistible, from Timbaland’s fantastic production to JT’s delivery and catchy lyrics (“this ain’t the girl I used to know / no, not anymore, TKO / I’m out for the count / yeah, girl, you knock me out”). The radio edit will most likely cut out the smooth breakdown in the last two minutes that sees Timbaland beat boxing over JT. I really hate radio edits. No matter, this single is still sure to be a hit for JT.

“Take Back the Night”

On the first single, JT produces an ode to the 70’s with a solely feel-good, upbeat, dance worthy pop song. The track definitely doesn’t live up to “Sexyback” (can anything?), and, like “Suit and Tie,” it’s a pretty basic first single. It still manages to be utterly infectious and an easy listen. It’s perfect for a solo dance party in your bedroom at one in the morning (…I’ve never done that…).

“Murder”

It seems JT and Jay-Z are the epitome of a perfect duo. As demonstrated with “Holy Grail” from Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta…Holy Grail” and “Suit and Tie” from part one, these two just work flawlessly together, and it’s no different on “Murder.” This collaboration is sleek and stylistically splendid. Totally worth a listen.

“Drink You Away”

This tracks showcases Timberlake’s Memphis roots, and it works. It’s a break from “2 of 2’s” upbeat, club-perfect, almost darker tone with a stomping, bluesy instrumental and superb delivery. All these elements combine to create the most spellbinding track on the album. JT’s vocals are seriously on-point when he wails “now, tell me baby, do they make a medicine for heartbreak?” This is a track you simply cannot pass up.

“You Got It On”

The next track brings us back to the R&B feel of the album with a beat that automatically has you snapping your fingers and dancing in your seat. It has an almost soothing quality to it after “Drink You Away,” but the track is still as smooth and sexy as we’ve come to expect from JT. It’s another easy listen.

“Amnesia”

Another beat that automatically grabs your attention. The strings in the first notes wake you up from the lulling feel of “You Got It On” and brings you right back to full attention. JT is, as always, flawless with his vocals and the instrumental is stunning. It does feel a bit darker, especially once you hit the final few minutes of the song, which once again sees the track morph into an almost entirely different song. While it’s nowhere close to the emotional depth of “Mirrors,” it is a heartfelt track that can’t be skipped.

“Only When I Walk Away”

JT channels a rockier tone on this one, with a heavy instrumental full of electric guitar and a moody feel over his auto tuned vocals. The track still isn’t a miss, despite its experimental nature and darker, edgier quality. One of the most fascinating tracks on the album.

“Not a Bad Thing”

The closing track on the standard edition is simply gorgeous. It has an airy, light feel to it makes me think this one could’ve easily been a ‘N Sync would’ve recorded back in the day. It sounds like nothing else on the album, and closes “2 of 2” with a stripped down instrumental and lovely lyrics (“it’s not such a bad thing to fall in love with me”). Now, don’t be scared that the track’s runtime is over eleven minutes. It includes a hidden track, unofficially titled “A Pair of Wings.” It officially caps off the album sweetly. Nothing but JT’s vocals and an acoustic guitar start off the track, but it does build up as the song runs. Very nice.

Target’s deluxe edition (duh, I bought it) comes with 2 additional tracks, “Blindness” and “Electric Lady.” Both are on the shorter end, as they are only a little over four minutes. It’s definitely worth it to have them.

So far, “2 of 2” has received incredibly mixed reviews. Most critics believe it to be inferior to “The 20/20 Experience,” full of nothing of “leftovers.”

However, “2 of 2” really does complete the “experience.” Whereas the first album was more slow-paced and, in a sense, happier, “2 of 2” is much more upbeat and sexual, with edgier, darker tones. It’s almost much more sexual than part one. The songs are easily more radio-friendly than the vast majority of “The 20/20 Experience.” The two albums complement each other in a way that makes it obvious why JT felt the need to release part two roughly six months after the first. The honesty and passion make the album absolutely worth the wait.

Basically, JT has once again carefully constructed a masterpiece. I expect JT to have another chart-topper under his belt after Billboard officially releases the first-week sales of “2 of 2.”