Justin Timberlake

The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2

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Just before the release of The 20/20 Experience, the Roots' ?uestlove, who opened as a DJ for Justin Timberlake's SXSW festival appearance, announced that there would be a sequel. A little more than six months later, it was released, consisting of more recordings from Timberlake's May-June 2012 sessions with friend Timbaland, Jerome Harmon, and James Fauntleroy. The construction is similar to that of the first volume. At 74 minutes and 11 (or 12) songs, it's a little longer, and much of it has that feel-over-concision, part-improv -- just spit ballin'! -- makeup. It starts more energetically, with a frivolous and robust jam for singles night at a zoo or Rainforest Café. The funkier and more frantic "True Blood" increases the energy and humor, swaps out nature effects for fantasy howls. Its ideas are exhausted after three and a half minutes, but it continues for another six. Relatively concise, "Cabaret," a standout featuring Drake, revamps Timbaland's trademark stuttering drums and has some of Timberlake's more clever/nauseating lines: "If sex is a contest, then you're coming first"; "'Cause I got you saying Jesus so much, it's like we're laying in a manger." Serving the same purpose of "Suit & Tie," "Take Back the Night" is another throwback to sophisticated disco-funk, but it resembles a cover of a deep soundtrack cut rather than a fresh spin on a classic. The second half is a laborious crawl, a variety of glorified and slow bonus tracks. It consists of slumping quasi blues, passable falsetto-soul balladry, a jilted post-breakup number with an extended coda, a blaring kiss-off that shifts into air-horn-enhanced dub (why not?), and a squeaky-clean adult pop love song. That's five songs in 37 minutes, though it's really six songs counting the hidden bit -- a solo acoustic ballad containing the line "If I could, I'd fly you away on a big ol' pair of wings." The album was sold separately and bundled with part one, not as The Complete 20/20 Experience, but as The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience. Taken in one shot, the complete version plays out like an excessively expanded edition of a three-star album.

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