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Having notched up the best-selling album in the US so far this year with The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake returns just six months later with another outsized helping of pseudo-sophisticated sleaze. “Get closer to your animal inside,” he yelps at the start over a dense ethno-funk backdrop: behind the tux there lurks a beast.
The salacity is relentless and, at 74 minutes’ duration, exhausting. Even the best of the beats (helmed as on the earlier album by Timbaland) is unable to sustain itself over the sprawling span of the songs, as with the way the whipcrack rhythms of “Only When I Walk Away” become thudding and overbearing after seven minutes of repetition. Meanwhile maladroit sequencing places “Take Back the Night” – an Off the Wall pastiche about seduction that shares its name with a prominent anti-rape organisation – next to a song called “Murder” about a “girl” with an “innocent face” and “killer” body. Classy work, JT.
The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2