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Review: With new album, Timberlake not 2 for 2

This CD cover image released by RCA Records shows "The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2," by Justin Timberlake. (AP Photo/RCA)

This CD cover image released by RCA Records shows "The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2," by Justin Timberlake. (AP Photo/RCA)

The anticipation that surrounded Justin Timberlake’s return to music was intense. It took seven years for him to follow-up the Grammy-winning masterpiece that was FutureSex/LoveSounds, and when he did in March with The 20/20 Experience, the pop prince helped fill a void in our musical lives, thanks to his slick R&B sound jelled with dance beats.

Now, we may be getting too much of Timberlake.

The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 uses the same formula that’s becoming his musical trademark – the trance-inducing grooves and futuristic electronic beats helmed by Timbaland and Timberlake, who co-wrote each song. Unfortunately it doesn’t feel new. Like FutureSex and the first 20/20 album, the songs on 2 of 2 are long, but they aren’t as entertaining or as cohesive as his first effort. Some tracks sound like leftovers from past recording sessions, and – dare we say it – actually drag on.

The album starts on the wrong note with “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)” and the nine-minute “True Blood,” both up-tempo songs that lack spark and swag. The lead single, “Take Back the Night,” might be good for mere mortal pop stars, but compared to Timberlake’s lofty standards, disappoints.

Not all of 2 of 2 should be dismissed: “You Got It On” is soft slow jam – you’ll feel like you’re on a cloud. And the midtempo “Drink You Away” is the disc’s most adventurous offering. It doesn’t sound like anything else on the album: It’s guitar driven with a strong backbeat, with a raw quality that makes it a bit indescribable – and exhilarating.

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