Album cover for The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2 by Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake went to great lengths to deliver on his promise of a second 20/20 album in 2013 – almost as long as the song lengths for many of the album’s tracks.
At this point, the song lengths are hard to ignore and while it was one of the things working against the first album released earlier this year, they continue to be the common threat against the whole experience. To give Justin credit, he plays it safer this time by having more than half of this album’s tracks end before hitting the six minute mark.
I should note that song length on its own never works against how good a song is – as long as the time is used wisely. Unfortunately for Justin, it rarely is with 20/20. But it might not even matter in the grand scheme of things.
First single Take Back The Night is the biggest throwback on the new record, with its stylish delivery and handsome sound. But like most of the tracks, it drags out longer than necessary and you begin to realize your finger has been hovering over the “next track” button since the middle of track 1, waiting for the moment to strike again.
Again for True Blood, a killer track that might just be the best across both parts of 20/20 but at over nine minutes long, some of it would need to be slashed to work beyond the record. It won’t replace Thriller as the go-to Halloween jam (unless there’s an awesome video – and there should be), but True Blood is capable of being served up every October.
One of the noted things about part two is that has a more modern sound than part one and it offers more musical variety, which is helpful when Timbaland‘s production begins to feel tired.
Drink You Away employs a southern hip-hop sound similar to Tim’s production with Bubba Sparxxx a decade ago, while Not A Bad Thing is a clean and breezy pop song than seems to be an homage to JT’s boyband days. Take it or leave it, it’s the final track.
The release of this second group of songs indicates that Justin isn’t placing his focus on the songs themselves but rather the mood they set. It’s likely these songs were originally part of the original album release but having all 21 tracks on one album initially would have been too overwhelming considering the total playing time is nearly two and a half hours.
Both albums work best as wholes, not individual songs, and better serve as backing music to set atmosphere – which is why the lengths of the songs isn’t as big a deal as I’ve made it out to be initially. Justin isn’t trying to outdo himself with this second release this year but is simply finishing his plan of putting out a fun, groovy, casual record.
1. Gimmie What I Don’t Know (I Want)
2. True Blood
3. Cabaret [featuring Drake]
5. Take Back The Night
6. Murder [featuring Jay-Z]
7. Drink You Away
8. You Got It On
10. Only When I Walk Away
11. Not A Bad Thing / Pair Of Wings