Story by Elyse Marrocco
“ ‘Cause I got you saying Jesus so much it’s like we’re lying in a manger,” sings Justin Timberlake three tracks in on his new effort, and after a line like that, you know you’re in for a ride. After the critically acclaimed, passion project of Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, the more commercially appealing and single heavy, The 20/20 Experience- 2 of 2 ,brings back the Justin Timberlake that appeals to the masses. With features from Drake and Jay Z, Timberlake falls back into where he seems most comfortable; singing sexy songs and making us all wish we were his wife, Jessica Biel.
The Timbaland heavy produced album, that was meant to be the follow up to the experimental first half, stands on it’s own. With brilliant tracks including “True Blood”, “Cabaret,” “Drink You Away,” Justin Timberlake does what Robin Thicke wishes he could; be subtle with the sex themes that run rampant throughout. 2 of 2 shows J Timb in the role of romancer, seducer, heartbroken man, and party starter. Timberlake’s “Thriller” wanna be, “True Blood,” has no shame in being the dream theme song to the HBO hit of the same name, giving Halloween parties their go-to dance song. With howls throughout and ghoulish sounding adlibs, Justin somehow sticks to a combination of sex and horror, but in the non-cheesiest way possible. He’s a magician.
The interludes that were sometimes better than the actual fully developed songs on Future Sex/Love Sounds make a welcomed return this time around. The outro following standout track “Amnesia” could be a song on it’s own. Justin Timberlake croons “go on, tear me apart/ do it again tomorrow... “ over a string heavy, pulsing drum track and the passion that exudes from J Timb is potent. “Drink Away” is another intense track with a guitar riff reminiscent of the Southern grit from Justin’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Gin and Jack isn’t helping Justin feel any better about his heartache, and it makes us all feel better about our own heartbroken drinking problems.
Closing out the album is the seemingly out of place “Not A Bad Thing.” While the rest of the album lies in the dirty beats Timbaland is famous for, and that made Justin the solo artist he is today, the acoustic guitar, pop melodies of “Not A Bad Thing” portrays the sensitive side. It’s a song that Justin Bieber’s “swag” would have ruined, but J Timb’s falsetto and smooth voice makes you swoon. Justin’s in his prime. He knows the artist he is. He isn’t afraid to experiment and then give us what he knows will be a slam dunk. Let’s hope Timberlake doesn’t go away for another six years.