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ATP! Album Review: Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (Part 2 of 2)

Fans are still recovering from the VMA performance where NSYNC dramatically rose from the metaphoric ashes of music. The giddy nostalgia set the stage perfectly for the unveiling of Justin Timberlake’s newest creation The 20/20 Experience (Part 2 of 2). And this album doesn’t disappoint. It’ll give your next date – whether a hot new fling or long-time lover – stiff competition for your attention and awe.

Like any good date, The 20/20 Experience (Part 2 of 2) just wants you to feel good. Dopamine-releasing bass and seductive lyrics slink their way to your heart and mind from beginning to end. ‘Give Me What I Don’t Know (I Want)’ is the mating call that starts the ride. Groovy, smooth, and treacherous, it sets the stage for the moves to come.

‘True Blood’ is the bold, sexy pickup line. Hide your kids, and hide yourself, this song needs blood to survive. Ferocious bass and sinister vocals will have you stripped down to your skivvies in no time flat. And just when you thought the anticipation couldn’t build any more, a sudden guitar riff in the bridge throws you to the bed. While they’re not the lyrics you’d expect from a married man, they create one of the strongest tracks on the album.

With some nods to its predecessor, The 20/20 Experience (Part 2 of 2) continues with the smooth production found in Part 1. While ‘Cabaret’ isn’t quite Liza’s style, it’s something we can expect from Timberlake. Bubbly bass and a side of gyrating continue to stun the listener (even as Drake threatens to ruin the date’s sultry mood).

Timbaland then moderates the transition to ‘TKO.’ The song playfully grinds the line between rap and singing. Accompanied by clever and suave rhymes, it’s a shame this song isn’t even longer than its seven minutes and four seconds. It shows the true care and time Timberlake and Timbaland put into making each song worth its length. For those who plan to purchase this album, I can assure you that the full-length songs will top radio edits any day. Opt for the Surf-n-Turf and full bottle, and soak up every minute of this album. It won’t leave you unsatisfied.

My only minor critique comes from ‘Take Back The Night.’ Relying on clichéd strip teases and ear-nibbling, the track seems like it could have been copy/pasted from Part 1. I applauded that album for its ambition, funk-drive and soul, but I feel like I’ve heard this track before. It’s a sound Timberlake has mastered, but one that may not turn on the listener as much as we’d like. Turning the heat back up is ‘Murder.’ Grinding the same line as ‘TKO,’ Timberlake’s vocals compliment the instrumentals perfectly ‘til Jay Z plays on the track as if it was his own. With such divine collaboration, it’s no wonder the masterminds are BFF’s. The artists slither into the your ears and take another bite out of your already blown mind. Suddenly the seduction throws a curveball. Strawberries and champagne are knocked to the floor as vintage guitar with bass creates a sound that should belong in a Phillips Phillips record. Then the intent becomes clear as JT comes into ‘Drink You Away’ – a masterful crossover into Country grooves and themes. As the song comes to a close, you’ll vow to never again doubt the prowess of JT and his songs.

Now the lovin’ slows down for a second. ‘You Got It On’ gives you big beady eyes and wraps you up in a snuggie by the fire. The R&B tempo and Timberlake’s vibrato smother you into calm serenity.

Then, WHAM. You’re thrown from the warm cuddlefest into a vigorous, yet inherently raw outpouring of emotion. ‘Amnesia’ begins with the same orchestral feel from ‘Pusher Love Girl’ with a tempo that keeps with your raised heartbeat. But there’s a colder aspect in the lyrics this time around. Timberlake lays down that “My whole memory of me is now gone so far from me, it's not fair / And I can feel it almost start to change.” The walls of Timberlake are torn down in this song’s intimate embrace.

‘Only When I Walk Away’ is the perfect interlude to the album’s finale. Sexy, soft, yet hard-hitting, this track lights the slow burn that will explode in the 11-minute “Not a Bad Thing.” Stripped-down acoustics will, unexpectedly, take you to your peak. No fancy drum lines, but all kinds of fireworks. Timberlake wanted to leave the listener feeling warm and complete at the end of this journey.

The 20/20 Experience (Part 2 of 2) is the conclusion of a story of heartache, love, and slick dance moves. Over the course of this album, Timberlake illuminates the sensitive heart at the core of the slick-talking hunk that is your date. Never flat or predictable, this album is a solid companion to its successor, and is sure to rock your world.


Jordan Wyman

The 20/20 Experience (Part 2 of 2) is available now via RCA Records.

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