Lydia Jenkin

Lydia Jenkin is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Album review: Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2

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Timberlake's latest is worth a listen, though it lacks heart. Photo / AP
Timberlake's latest is worth a listen, though it lacks heart. Photo / AP

In an age where the single seems to reign supreme, it's an interesting move for one of the world's biggest pop stars to release what is essentially a super-album (21 tracks in total), by splitting it into two halves, and releasing them just six months apart. One can speculate all manner of cynical reasons as to why, but at the root of it seems to be this impetus: he'd recorded 40 songs, and he wanted to release more than 10 of them, before they got stale. And when you're Justin Timberlake, you can fairly well do what do like, so here we are.

While there might've been some trepidation that 2 of 2 would be a collection of second-rate off-cuts, it's a fun album in it's own right. It's fairly thematically similar to 1 of 2 - in one way or another the songs are about the pursuit and idolisation of women, and the production isn't too far off either. It's less aurally adventurous than 1 of 2, more like the familiar Timberlake of FutureSex/LoveSounds perhaps. There's plenty of booming bass, vocal snippets from Timbaland, falsetto, synth melodies, and creative percussive beats, though the opening four tracks feel darker than much of his previous output.

There's a heavy, foreboding to both Gimme What I Don't Know and True Blood (which has a touch of SexyBack in it's spooky Thriller-ish tale). Cabaret, which features Drake, would probably feel a whole lot sexier without the overpowering bass pulses (and some odd lyrics), and TKO is fairly ponderous. But Take Back The Night remedies that, an easy, Michael Jackson-esque, 80s, RnB confection that JT stamps his own mark on, and Murder (featuring Jay-Z) reaches another energy level. Drink You Away is a curiosity - a sort of swaggering, southern, organ-led nod to country that could end up being a live favourite, but from there things get a little generic (though Not A Bad Thing will assuredly turn up in a rom-com some time soon).

So it lacks anything as heartfelt and convincing as Mirror, and there's no track that can match the snap-and-slide coolness of Pusher Love Girl, but it's still a worthy listening experience, and adds some new range to the JT songbook.

Stars: 3.5/5
Verdict: Not as colourful as part 1, but still good fun.
Click here to buy The 20/20 Experience: Part 2 of 2.

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