Album review: Suave seduction on Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience — 2”

"The 20/20 Experience - 2" by Justin Timberlake.
“The 20/20 Experience – 2” by Justin Timberlake.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Santiago Mendoza.

“The 20/20 Experience — 2”
Justin Timberlake
★★★½✰✰

If part one of “The 20/20 Experience” was Justin Timberlake’s suave and sophisticated gala, part two is the sexy, seductive after party, and we’re all invited.

Almost seven months after the release of Timberlake’s album — marking his return from a seven-year hiatus — the second part of his opus arrives, swapping the sophistication and polished charm of “Mirrors” and “Suit &Tie” for something a little more self-indulging, proving that the decision to split the album into two parts was both stylistic and necessary.

In “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want),” he sings about lurid dreams and nighttime fantasies, in which he “(becomes) the animal that’s inside.” The same dark and erotic theme carries through the album in tracks like “Murder” featuring Jay-Z and the comical “Thriller”-esque “True Blood.”

This album is just as ambitious and experimental as the first one. “Take Back the Night” embodies a disco vibe while echoing Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” “You Got it On” is lyrically-soulful, with graceful vocals whose tones and falsettos harken back to the best of Marvin Gaye. It’s in tracks like “TKO,” “Murder” and “Cabaret” where we see the old Timberlake: stylistic pop infused with smooth back beats provided by his longtime production partner Timbaland.

It’s a host of original Timberlake material mixed in with tracks we were comfortable listening to before. The album starts fresh and strong, settles into what we’re used to, and eventually dies down like the last half hour at a party. Nonetheless, Timberlake proves to be just as musically entertaining as he’s always been, and with new ideas, proves he’s still the showman we’ve always loved.

The Good: Part two is creative, fun, and doesn’t feel overshadowed by its successful predecessor. Even on tracks with an especially distinct influence, Timberlake still makes them intelligently original.

The Bad: The album feels drawn out towards the end and lacks the punch of his previous hits.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.