Somewhere, in the midst of the 20 songs (21 if you count the hidden track) and more than two-and-a-half hours of music that is "The 20/20 Experience" (RCA), lurks a great Justin Timberlake album.
Cut away some repetition. Prune some seven-minute songs down to manageable sizes. Soon, the ambition and artistic vision shine through. Right now, "The 20/20 Experience" is still a bit blurry, though this second part is slightly sharper than the first.
It almost feels like Timberlake wants to reward those who went through the entire experience with him, putting some of his warmest, most immediately likable songs at the end.
If the big-production-number "Take Back the Night" feels a bit cold for a calculated Michael Jackson tribute, "You Got it On," with Timberlake adopting a gorgeous falsetto over a stylish soul groove, crackles with emotion. "Not a Bad Thing" shows how charming he can be when he's not trying too hard, a lovely slice of R&B that feels like a kissing cousin to Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable" and TLC's "Waterfalls." The lush, sweeping "Amnesia" shows how Timberlake and producer Timbaland can handle arrangements and emotions that are a bit more complex, weaving an intricate pattern that is one of the few "20/20" songs that warrants its seven-minute-plus runtime.
Unfortunately, to get there, you have to pass through the ridiculous nine-minute "True Blood"; the bloated, Aaliyah-sounding, seven-minute "TKO"; and the throwaway Jay Z collaboration "Murder." It's a very long ride, but in the end, it's worth the trip.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE "The 20/20 Experience -- 2 of 2"
THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Too much of a good thing can still be too much.