How perfect is it that my first update day is exactly a week into January? I love it when things work out. This week, I bring you the JT post I’ve been promising for forever and a day, and it’s probably gonna be sub par but whatever.
Album: The 20/20 Experience (Part 2) Artist: Justin Timberlake
So let’s start off with a recap. The 20/20 Experience (Part 1) was JT’s third album, and it came a long while after his second. It received generally favorable reviews (and rightly so) and it had some wonderful songs on it (i.e. “Suit and Tie”). Well, apparently Part 1 wasn’t enough, because only months later, Part 2 was on the market.
Undoubtedly both parts are very similar; Timberlake manages to keep his experimental sound in Part 2, though if you listen back to back there are some pretty distinct differences in the albums ranging from overall beats to lyrics to emotions. According to critics, Part 2 wasn’t as good as it’s predecessor. Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork called it an “unwarranted glut” and claims that it “points to a much more stunted spectrum of creativity” (Find his review here!).
Imagine how people who didn’t like Part 1 felt. Personally, and this could totally be my naturally pessimistic personality, I like Part 2. Admittedly, it’s probably a little more offensive than its senior, but it’s also a little more angry (which is what I like). Even though Dombal thinks that anger doesn’t really fit JT, I disagree. If you go back to some of his older work, you can hear that same aggression in “What Goes Around Comes Around,” except it’s a little more angsty there. Regardless, I don’t think that The 20/20 Experience (Part 2) is just an album you can write off.
Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone seems to agree. He gave the album 3 and 1/2 stars out of five, but he seems to appreciate the overall work more than Dombal (his review is here).
But what do I have to say about the album?
I think the album originally won me over with “Only When I Walk Away,” a track that Dolan obviously appreciated as well. It’s seven minutes of a rolling guitar riff reminiscent of the 70s (think Led Zepp) and some heavy (and somewhat angry) beats provided by Timbaland. Admittedly, the laser show that JT performs the song with helped the track’s cause. Or maybe it was “Drink You Away” that originally hooked me. This song is distinctly different not only from the rest of the album, but JT’s work in general. The track merges Timberlake’s hip/hop roots with some obvious country influences. It’s much better than country music in my opinion, but obviously Timberlake is very familiar with his Tennessee beginnings.
The album also features some guest spots from not only Jay-Z (who was on Part 1 as well), but also Drake. Neither feature disappoints, though I don’t claim to know anything about rap music so maybe it does. Who knows?
Ultimately, the winning track is hand’s down “Amnesia” (in my opinion, at least). The opening string arrangement sets a wonderful start and it’s continued throughout the song. It’s lofty enough to capture the whimsicality of the album and impressive enough to leave the listener wanting just a little more.
Now, the album admittedly has a few busts, if you will. “True Blood,” while certainly interesting, just isn’t my cup of tea. It’s kinda fun but sorta weird and I could do without the howling. But hey, to each their own I guess. And, with regards to the singles, my feelings remain the same as they did for Part 1. They just aren’t the best the album has to offer. But they’re catchy, which is probably why they were chosen for the radio (I had to jab at it just once).
If I had to pick? Unlike most critics I think I’d pick Part 2. While I enjoy Part 1 and think the album was overall more innovative, Part 2 is just more listenable. I’m surprised that Pages just told me the “listenable” was a word. But my point is, despite the fact that Part 2 also continues the seven minute song trend, I think it just flows a little better. It’s a little more exciting. Sue me.
How was that for a post? Not only did I actually write about an album, but it was much better than my Part 1 post (but that isn’t saying much). Find that here.
Thoughts? Leave them here, Facebook, or twitter! And as always, keep listening!