Justin Timberlake is really spoiling us this year. After taking seven years to follow-up her second studio album FutureSex/LoveSounds, Timberlake has just released his second album of the year. Back in March Timberlake released The 20/20 Experience which featured his singles Suit & Tie and Mirrors. Part way through promoting the record, Timberlake announced that he was releasing The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 before the end of the year having recorded 20 songs he wanted to release. In the UK the album was narrowly beaten to number 1 by Haim but in the US he scored his second number one album of the year.
The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 sees Timberlake collaborating with Timbaland once again for another collection of tracks. The standard edition of the album has 11 tracks whilst the deluxe edition contains a second disc with two additional tracks. In the summer Timberlake moved quickly from buzz single Tunnel Vision, from the first instalment of The 20/20 Experience, to new single Take Back The Night which had a more laidback funky sound than his other recent music.
Just before he released The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 Timberlake debuted new song TKO which was similar in sound to previous releases such as Tunnel Vision. As the two songs sounded so different it was hard to know what to expect from this new release but anyone who has heard The 20/20 Experience won’t find much in the way of a surprise on this release. The album kicks off with Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want) which has a strong trademark Timbaland beat and eases you gently in to the album.
Once again the album is mixed featuring no breaks between the tracks and with the majority of tracks running between 5 to 9 minutes in length. This makes the album feel immediately like familiar territory and anyone expecting a radically different sound will be disappointed. Guests on the record include Drake on the off-kilter beats of Cabaret and Jay-Z pops up once again for the hip-hop beats of Murder.
There are a couple of moments that take Timberlake of his comfort zone. Drink You Away sets beats against an electric guitar riff and is one of the slower moments on the record whilst Not a Bad Thing is a mid-tempo ballad fleshed out with Timberlake’s soulful vocal. Aside from those two tracks though it’s business-as-usual with Timbaland’s heavy beats throughout and elongated musical breaks and vocal loops extending the run time of each song.
There are some great moments on the record. True Blood, whilst nearly running for 10 minutes, is an uptempo club track that deserves to be a future single from the album (and no it has nothing to do with the TV show of the same name) and Only When I Walk Away has a harder, rockier edge with distorted vocals. These are the standout tracks on the record without a doubt.
The two tracks included on the deluxe edition we could take or leave to be honest. Blindness is a plodding mid-tempo number and Electric Lady is a standard Timbaland-produced track that could have been on any of Timberlake’s albums.
The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 is a solid record but it doesn’t offer anything particularly new. Perhaps Timberlake should have considered releasing The 20/20 Experience as a 2-disc affair much the way that Christina Aguilera did with her Back To Basics album. Having six months apart has given fans, and critics, time to work themselves into a frenzy of anticipation and unfortunately it seems to have left most of them a little disappointed. The album is good but it’s not different enough from The 20/20 Experience to stand on its own.