Long gone are the days Justin Bieber was simply a young teen star spouting simplistic pop anthems to an unspecified female crush, a trick that built an entire career on the “oh my god this song is totally about me” mentality. Justin has never really ‘needed’ much complexity in his music for success; he’s incredibly attractive, he’s got quite a nice voice and he can dance which has been enough – till now. The ‘Biebs’ is now a 21 year old man and he just might be maturing.
It’s been three years since his last studio album so the wait for his fans has been a long one but in all honesty debut single ‘What do you mean?’ makes up for it. This dance tune’s simple metronome intro is instantly layered upon by the songs signature infectious beat opening up brand new audiences for Bieber.
While people are still processing Biebers new sound ‘Sorry’ the second single of his album drops. Again this song’s very accessible to people who have vowed against Biebers music in the past. Biebers always been a ‘love or hate’ musician but now he’s dropped two songs in a row that, if you’re at all a fan of modern dance-pop, you’ll love. The upbeat rhythm, background vocals and trumpet flares are reminiscent of the almost ‘exotic-ness’ of massive tunes like Major-Lazer’s – ‘Lean on’ showing just how big Justin’s new material could become.
The problem with the quality of these singles, though, is that they pretty much eclipse the rest of the album. Nothing on the album is actually ‘bad’ it’s just that compared to powerhouse dance tunes like the first single, and unusual yet intriguing pop songs like ‘Sorry’, songs such as ‘Company’ and ‘Purpose’ are simply lacklustre.
There are some other songs of note on this album however, particularly ‘Love Yourself’ which has a slightly different vibe and tone, courtesy of co-writer Ed Sheeran making it stand out from the rest of the album. It’s very simple but it works. The basic guitar throughout keeps it grounded and the trumpet interlude elaborates on this. On its own it may be a bit bland but if you like to view albums as a whole rather than cherry pick tracks then you’ll appreciate the songs inclusion because it just gives the album something a little simpler, a little slower and a little different.
What may be one of my favourite things with this album, however, was the involvement of Skrillex as a producer on five of the albums songs including second single ‘Sorry’. Bieber’s music has always been heavily produced by a plethora of people but none have quite teased the right bits out of Biebers music to give him that edge. Skrillex has come as close as I’ve seen and while not perfect it is most definitely interesting.
I strongly recommend you download the two singles released from this album and would urge you to check out anything else Skrillex had a hand in in this album.