After a 7-year absence from music, Justin Timberlake is back with a vengeance for 2013. First returning with The 20/20 Experience in March, the album was a massive success selling like hotcakes and added (the Grammy contender) “Mirrors” and “Suit And Tie” to Justin’s hitlist. JT could have just coasted on the success of that album for the rest of the year and all the way to the Grammys, but he’s giving us even more music with Part 2 of The 20/20 Experience.
Since Part 1 was such a triumph, it’s a bold move for Justin to follow it up so quickly, but he’s created another fantastic album that actually tops his first 2013 release. He’s got songs here that sound like typical Justin, especially the first two singles, “Take Back The Night” (that also sounds like something left over from the Michael Jackson songbook) and “TKO”. They don’t surprise you, but they are solid tracks in a sound that Justin always sounds great on.
From there, JT starts to get much more creative. “Murder” and “Cabaret” aren’t too outside the box, but he smartly livens them up with rap verses from 2 of the best rappers in the game, Jay-Z and Drake, respectively. “True Blood” is a 9-minute epic that the TV show should be commissioning to use on the vampire series immediately. With nods to “Thriller”, it’s a darkly fantastic love song with punches of horns and Timbaland accents that gets you moving. I’m always shocked that Justin makes these long song lengths work. When I initially saw the song lengths on the album, I cringed, but you never get bored of any track. His transitions to different sounds within one track is fascinating. Timbaland (who has more featured vocals on this album) has done some of his best work here.
“Drink You Away” is one of the best songs Justin has ever created. Working with a guitar riff that ends with an abrupt percussion sting, it’s something we’ve never heard from Justin before. Along with fun lyrics about trying to drink away the memory of a girl, it’ll immediately having you hitting the repeat button. From that point on in the album, it continues to be inventive with the sexy “You Got It On”, a track that Marvin Gaye would be envious of. “Only When I Walk Away” balances a rock and a hip hop sensibility perfectly. It’s like Timbaland took a Deep Purple melody and gave it a thumping beat.
“Not A Bad Thing” is a perfect piece of pop that once again adds a pounding bass to an acoustic guitar. It’s the closest JT is ever going to get to NSYNC. Then the secret song that’s just Justin and an acoustic guitar is beautiful.
Justin has created a stunning album that’s a perfect companion to his earlier release. His first 2 solo albums were nominated for Album Of The Year at the Grammys, and I have a feeling (since he can submit both parts of this album as one), this will be the year he finally takes home the prize.