In March, Justin Timberlake debuted his first disc in seven years — “The 20/20 Experience” — to good notices (75 at MetaCritic) and great sales. Although it remains the best seller of the year, it could have competition from the just-released “Part 2.”
However, while the new album may also top the charts, this sequel did not prove to be the equal for all reviewers, earning an MetaCritic score of just 60. But it still could be music to the ears of Grammy voters, who may favor its harder sound as noted in the reviews excerpted below.
Timberlake contended for the top Grammy prize — Album of the Year — for both of his first two solo discs: “Justified” lost to “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” by Outcast in 2004 while “FutureSex/LoveSounds” was bested by the Dixie Chicks‘ “Taking the Long Way Home” in 2006.
To reap another Album bid, he may have to decide which of these two discs to tout to Grammy voters. After reading the reviews for both below, help him decide by voting in our poll at the bottom of this post.
As Mikael Wood (LA Times) notes, “Where the initial ’20/20′ carried a suave, gentlemanly vibe — one reflected in the classic tuxedos Timberlake wore during appearances on the Grammy Awards, “Saturday Night Live” and in at least one Target commercial — the new set aims for something darker and dirtier.
Observes Kyle Anderson (EW), “The Drake-assisted ‘Cabaret’ builds a symphony of mouth noises that recalls Aaliyah’s ‘Are You That Somebody?,’ and ‘True Blood’ is so 1997 that it’s shocking there’s not a guest verse by Mase (that’s a compliment). Those throwback blasts give 2 of 2 a more immediate punch than its predecessor.”
Says Jon Dolan (Rolling Stone), “Skeptics might consider Timberlake’s releasing another 70-minute album (cut during the same sessions as ‘Part One’) only months later a bit indulgent. But, hey, get a load of those indulgences: ‘Only When I Walk Away’ opens with a grinding acid-funk riff that leads into a woozy, mordant dressing down of a no-good woman, then detours into sticky-icky dub reggae that could’ve been cooked up in Lee Perry‘s laboratory; ‘True Blood’ is nine minutes of 4/4 throb and bhangra strings and percussion, with JT dropping into slithering Princely sex patter.”
And for Brian Mansfield (USA Today), “the first half of Timberlake’s ‘Experience’ felt contented in its relationships, often celebratory; ‘Part 2’ is no less committed, but it addresses the darker, more warped impulses. Musically, the endeavor is as ambitious as anything attempted by the soul greats Timberlake clearly admires: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield.”
‘Part 1’ reviews
In his rave, Mesfin Fekadu (AP) said, “it’s a brilliant piece of work that plays like a musical movement. The 10 tracks (which average seven minutes) weave into one another beautifully as his falsetto glides over each beat. It’s an unconventional adventure that makes your bones groove.”
And Elysa Gardner (USA Today) was equally enthusiastic, noting “the new collection picks up where 2006’s ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’ left off and, eventually, explores love and sex from the perspective of a more mature chap.”