Justin has made some good decisions and bad decisions over his career, with the latter being the majority. I'm not one to criticize his actions but when news do surface about him, it's frankly a little hard to avoid considering they are everywhere. Still, we get a new album from what fans label as the “pop prince”. Is it actually a turning point or is it stale just as before?
I think the problem that I have is yet to really see what Bieber can do. His past singles and albums haven't really raised eyebrows nor been compelling from a neutral standpoint, but it's not that terrible amongst others scraping down the bottom of the barrel.
I think one issue is to find the spot where Bieber can be placed in. He wants do pop and EDM dance-groove which does sound like a great combination. To his fans, most of them really just want to hear some good vocals and I don't think he's really been able to hit a particular high yet.
I'm not going to defend my Bieber standpoint considering I may have disliked his actions in the past, but since his career was mired with terrible decisions piling upon one another, it was a matter of time before he had to apologize for his antics. And it's true that while he has matured, many of us still hold the same judgement as before, of which I understand but not blame. The thing is, music is a different beast compared to what we can see and convey, so it'll be tough for Justin to defend what is left of his talents. So can he?
Released just less than a week ago, Purpose is the fourth studio album dropped by the Canadian pop icon and seemingly has garnered quite a positive success, albeit minimal. While I've been jogging my mind trying to think of words to describe the album, I really wasn't able to think of one. It's pop synth heavy with a dose of electric percussions ringing on some tracks, and for the most part shooting multiple stars and landing on many different planets. The issue overall is the astronaut - and to be honest he's not very convincing.
Overall I found the album flawed, yes, but it was a decent for what it is. What Do You Mean was a decent hit aimed squarely to produce a bass-enthused track with Bieber being in the centre of it all. While it's not the best thing he's done, it's certainly not terrible than he's previous singles (we all know). Sorry is an okay follow-up with some functional production and passable vocals.
I think the singles sort of lend shape for the album, hitting multiple attributes but not really doing much altogether, like a short-ended star. The album focuses too much on either trying to combine the serious aspects of lyrical warmth and tone only to be colliding with an out of place singing (Sorry), synthesizers (Children) and oftentimes making No Sense.
There are redeeming qualities on this album for sure, and while it's not going to make you a Bieber fan straightaway, there really isn't a point in listening unless you're interested in it. Which I do think it's worth a listen either way as the album’s opinion changes depending on who you talk to.
For me? Love Yourself and The Feeling are the tracks that I would consider great. The former track being written by Ed Sheeran with him singing on the chorus which lends a smooth and heartwarming tale about Justin not really caring about the girl who he had a problem relationship-wise with. The Feeling features the female singer Halsey which forms a great singing duo with Justin as well and for the most part evokes emotion which some of the other tracks don't. And these two tracks are by far the better tracks on the album. They show the human and vulnerable side of Justin and opens up possibilities for what could have been had the album not taken a nosedive on some tracks.
I also wanted to talk about Purpose, the album title track as I feel that most people often associate Bieber with not emotion as much on his songs and is either too bland or boring. The three songs above I've mentioned do feel like Bieber is pouring his heart on to a silver platter and serves real expression rather than trying to dodge the bullet. It's nice for a change and shows that with Bieber’s much more laid back or lowered tone, he shines on these tracks more.
Then when we get to the rotten apples, there are quite a bad bunch in it. The two Skrillex tracks (one which was a collaboration with Diplo and Bieber that released earlier this year) feel so out of place on the album and could've honestly been taken out for a spot to exchange with tracks on the deluxe edition. Children is a half-hearted attempt at trying to mix serious and dance tones together that meshes like formulaic nonsense. Where Are You Now is getting on my nerves and I don't see how people are naming it one of the best songs of the year (apart from good vocals from Bieber that showed more punch and emotion compared to what we've heard on Purpose).
And I've talked about his tone and his vocals, but while they are certainly serviceable, there's so much more that Justin could've done to improve on multiple levels. Still, I feel this will grow with time if he heads into the right direction.
The collaborations with Big Sean and Travis Scott leads to more head scratches than dances and both of the features provide zero contribution whatsoever. For the most part they weren't even trying at all. Well, on some songs like Sorry and No Sense, you could say the same for Justin with his vocals being more “safe” I would guess. It doesn't raise any roofs and does just enough on the whole. And I do applaud Bieber for not resorting to any audio functions such as autotune, and rather singing with his skills rather than technology.
All in all, Justin’s new album Purpose doesn't really flesh out nor revel in anything. If at all, it's more of a comeback record to say “I'm still here” rather than “I'm definitely going to prove my worth”. Apart from the minor gems and blips, the album is pale and stale, but definitely not weak.
Essentials: Love Yourself
Favourite Tracks: The Feeling, Purpose
Least Favourite Tracks: No Sense, No Pressure, Children
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.