Review Summary: When ambition exceeds quality.
You know, it really pains me to have the opinion of Justin Timberlake's past two albums that I do. JT is a man that I admire greatly, and when The 20/20 Experience
came out this year in March, I spent the better half of my complete listens to it doing something else while it played in the background. Now here was a collection of tracks that are in desperate need of an editor. Here, we had a collection of potentially great tracks that get halfway through, and suddenly turn into dance remixes of themselves. And seeing as it wasn't an album that presented itself as incomplete- hell, it definitely is the most "album" album to be released this year- one must wonder if a second volume is necessary, let alone a second volume of mostly 7-minute tracks. And I mean, I'm ecstatic that Justin wanted to do something that steps outside pop music's comfort zone and think outside the box. Problem is, these tracks reek of self-indulgence.
This is more evident in the second volume, titled 2 of 2
. Whereas Volume 1 at least had great ideas, it's all too obvious that they were all used up on that album- and sadly, wasted too. Listening to this album, you can't help but get the impression that this is really just a "filler" album to take Justin's fans' minds off the fact that he's been away too long. These two albums could probably accurately be compared to The Matrix
sequels- One has some good ideas but sadly doesn't use them the right way, and the other is proof they were all wasted in the latter.
It's not that the songs are bad. I mean, if I were at a party or a club, I'd be able to dance to them. They're good background music, if that. They're good for those dance parties... as music for sitting down to listen to, they're sadly a chore. The opening song, "Gimmie What I Don't Know (I Want)" is a fun and catchy pop track that gets the show's planes in the air safely, and though it isn't exactly a "great" song, it's a good opener, serviceable at that. The recurring harmonized vocalized "The sounds are gone when we become the animals that were made in the jungle
" is a cool effect, and a good gimmick, if that. Problem is, it's immediately followed up by the rather cringe-worthy and tedious "True Blood", a sing that has no reason to be 9 minutes and 30 seconds long when it's as stupidly boring, repetitive and annoying as it is. There's corny, reverb-laden wereolf howls throughout, complete with corny lyrics and too much going on in the music. Much like songs like "Pusher Love Girl" and "Strawberry Bubblegum", this song ends at 5 minutes... and then there's a boring and useless four-minute coda of the same four bars repeated over and over. It's a 9 minute song that feels like it's 18 minutes. Things are slightly saved by "Cabaret", which is pretty reminiscent of his FutureSex
days. It has a pretty sweet sounding chord progression, and Drake's appearance even isn't that bad. And then JT goes and screws it up all again with tedious single "T.K.O.", which starts off good, but sadly goes downhill and becomes repetitive quick.
...and after that, there's still 6 more tracks to go (8 if you live in Canada- but by the time the main disc ends, you'll be too drained to take it out of the player, let alone put the extra disc with a measly 2 boring tracks in). To keep things short, they try too hard and end up falling flat- be it the N*SYNC-esque "Only When I Walk Away" or "Drink You Away", or the hilariously cheesy "Amnesia", which is one of the corniest and whinest songs I've ever heard, or "Not a Bad Thing" and its hidden track "Pair of Wings", both of which try too hard to be this album's "Mirrors" (though both are decent). And even the two bonus tracks barely do anything to salvage the album- "Blindness" being a boring faux-Jazz pop song with some of the worst lyrics you'll ever hear, and "Electric Lady" which isn't actually that bad until the cringe-worthy chorus comes.
Point is, if you didn't like the first volume, well, this one makes it look like Thriller
by comparison. And this album won't win new fans of JT, either. I'm trying to imagine these songs played in concert, and all I can see is half the audience dozing in their seats. Hell, you know something is wrong when Lady Gaga makes a better album. So, long story short, download "Gimme What I Don't Know", " Cabaret" and "Not a Bad Thing", skip the rest.