Published Sep 28, 2013It's a difficult proposition to release a second album in a year and not have it feel like an addendum. Justin Timberlake knows this, so he's wisely chosen a different direction for this second volume of The 20/20 Experience than the first. Where the strings and slow grooves of songs like "Pusher Love Girl," "Strawberry Bubblegum" and "Mirrors" gave the original The 20/20 Experience a leisurely Sunday afternoon vibe, volume two feels like Saturday night: vivid, indulgent and bass heavy.
Starting the party is the sultry "Gimme What I Don't Know (I Want)," which begins with a Freddie Mercury-esque multi-part harmony and finds Timberlake begging his object of affection to "take me to your jungle; I'm not afraid." Like first single "Take Back the Night" and the "SexyBack"-channelling "True Blood," it's a dance floor-ready banger that brings the party, but little else. At times, the party vibe works — the stuttering "Murder" is a captivating bit of energetic pop — but, for the most part, volume two borders on tiring. "True Blood" is eons too long, "Drink You Away" relies too heavily on repetition and the rock god pomposity of "Only When I Walk Away" is irritating for the first half and tiring for the second. Late album ballads "You Got It On" and "Amnesia" are pleasant, but only the latter is as pretty as volume one highlights "Strawberry Bubblegum" and the gorgeous "Blue Ocean Floor." The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 includes a few pop gems, but as an album, it pales in comparison to its older sibling. (RCA)