When Justin Timberlake released his first album in over six years earlier in 2013, I think we were all a little giddy and rightly so. We’ve watched the falsetto master grow from bleached-tips boy to slick, “Sexy Back” man to serious actor to Emmy winner and renowned SNL host, and in 2012, when it was announced that Timberlake would release his third album, it was as if the heavens opened up and offered us the voice of an angel. And JT didn’t disappoint; “Mirrors,” anyone? Now, Timberlake fans have been graced with a sequel of sorts: The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2, but does the new work hold up to the first incarnation or like so many mega sequels today, are we dealing with a Teen Wolf Too situation?
This second part of the “Experience,” recorded at the same time as part one, includes a plethora of songs that seem to support the first album, rather than stand out on their own. The most coherent thread throughout is the amount of fun Timberlake has incorporating pretty much whatever non-musical background sounds he wants into his tunes. “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)” and “True Blood” utilize animal sounds, like elephant trumpeting and wolf howls. Other tracks combine rap, electric claps, and of course, ear-shattering harmonies that force any listener to realize the creative capabilities of the artist.
“True Blood” serves as an enjoyable homage to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with its lyrical subject matter, lines like, “Make me wanna build a coffin for two” proving to be especially creepy. The song also includes howling, a generous length, and the best part, Timbaland’s Vincent Price impression throughout. I swear there’s even a two-note nod at the True Blood (television show) theme song. The song is one of the biggest dance numbers on the album; I envision “True Blood” being the remixed wonder playing at a bar near you.
Other standouts include the twangy “Drink You Away,” where Timberlake proves he really is from Memphis and “Cabaret” that features Drake, some sweet falsetto, and lyrics that would make Liza Minnelli blush. Singles “TKO” and “Take Back The Night” probably won’t have much company on the radio, with “Not A Bad Thing” being the closest nod to mainstream pop, but songs like “Pair of Wings” (the album’s only ballad) are worth streaming.
The album stands on its own, separate from the flavor of The 20/20 Experience (Part One), and therefore, I don’t think we can safely compare it to the Jason Bateman classic, Teen Wolf Too. Instead, for fans of JT, The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 is the divine extra bit to savor, like accompanying book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for major Harry Potter fans. However, for Timberlake’s casual listeners, this album might be more excessive than they care to spend time on. While it may lack sing along tracks, The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 does present a sort of playful insight into Timberlake’s creative brilliance, and ultimately, leaves us hoping that we won’t have to wait another six years for more.
Hilary Miller is currently an MFA student in Screenwriting at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. When not not watching, writing, or talking about movies and television shows, she can usually be found making crock-pot creations, laughing, talking too loud, running, devouring a good book, eating, racking up cellular bills chatting with her bomb family, sticking her toes in the sand, or wishing she were Hermione Granger, sometimes all at once. And while part of her heart is still in Indiana, the rest of it belongs to her puppy, Estelle Getty.