It’s been a rough few years for the Biebs. Whether it’s been his trouble with the law or being caught at Brazilian brothels, Justin Bieber has been the center of celebrity media for quite some time. On top of that, he hasn’t put out a full album since his 2012 release of “Believe.” In 2013, Bieber ventured into the world of R&B, which showcased that his voice is better suited for soulful blues over bubblegum pop. His project “Journals” was met with mixed feelings that left critics and fans wondering what direction the star would go in. After two years, the question remains; Can Bieber, at the age of 21, make a comeback into the world of either pop or R&B? The short answer is absolutely.
The album is a mix between EDM/R&B that works well for Bieber’s vocal range.
Some dance tracks on this album are irresistible. “What Do You Mean?” mixes in tropical house music, ticking clock percussions and piano keys that deliver a unique sound. Synths and low bass hits are ever present in this search for answers.
Likewise, “Sorry,” is an upbeat ode to a certain ex lover with an infectious hook.
Bieber sings, “Is it too late to say sorry?/ Cause I’m missing more than just your body/ Is it too late to now to say sorry/ Yeah I know that I let you down.” Stating that this is about more than just the physical aspect of a relationship, as drums and sonic sounds fill the background on this reggae-influenced track.
“The Feeling” is the best dance track by far, as it combines R&B and EDM into one unique duet with Halsey that is truly unforgettable.
Bieber’s voice still dominates the R&B tracks. Album highlight, “No Pressure” combines 90’s R&B with the sensibilities of modern day R&B to make one hell of a track. As a low guitar plays in the back, shakers and low synths are scattered throughout. Big Sean stops by to leave a memorable verse with references from Yoko Ono to Street Fighter. Bieber’s voice surprises, as he hits falsettos in unexpected ways. “Company” and “We Are” are great tracks that take advantage of his talent for rhythm and blues, with “We Are” standing out the most thanks to a great guest verse by Nas.
While there are fun tracks scattered throughout, it’s Bieber’s intimate moments that leave their mark. The vulnerability he showcases is what listeners will connect with.
On one standout track “Love Yourself,” Bieber disses an ex lover. Written by Ed Sheeran, the track strips everything away and leaves Bieber with a simple guitar rift and slaps. His voice is soft, yet carries weight and he flows through the track with grace.
It’s chorus is infectious, as Sheeran assists with his soulful falsetto, “My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone/ and I never like to admit I was wrong/ And I’ve been so caught up on my job I didn’t see what’s going on.”
Bieber is opening up to the listener, letting them know that he was blinded by his career, only to later realize that she was a bad fit for him.
“I’ll Show You” is a dark atmospheric track with whaling production by Skrillex. The bass, the chimes and the snares come together to make a memorable ballad about vulnerability.
“Where Are U Now” is perhaps one of the best tracks on the album. Much like “Love Yourself,” “Where Are U Now” finds Bieber opening up in unexpected ways. With warm piano keys playing through the verses, he croons “Where are you now that I need ya/ Couldn’t find you anywhere/ When you broke down I didn’t leave ya/ I was by your side/ So where are you know that I need ya?”
It shows him at his lowest, asking for companion ship and for love, like he showed her.
The song kicks into high gear when the bass drops during the chorus. Many textures inhabit the song that makes it the most unique track. Snares, ticks, percussions, and what sounds like whales making love kick in. It has a tribal African dance feel, that makes the drama much more impactful.
The album has its flaws, however. Tracks like “Life Is Worth Living” and “Purpose” break the pace of the album, and often feel as if the album could have been better without them. “No Sense” is a Trap n’ B song that is held back from greatness thanks to Travis Scott’s unnecessary verse. While a good track, the flow gets broken up thanks to Scott. The rest of the tracks suffer from being generic and don’t offer anything truly unique. The album also suffers by trying to please everyone at once. At times, it sounds like it lacks focus. This is a great start for Bieber, as it seems that he’s finally getting into a groove that we haven’t seen from him in quite some time. With winter just beginning, it seems that everyone will be catching Bieber fever.