Self-realisation and repositioning seem to be a favourite amongst many iconic pop stars in the past year, right from Selena Gomez’s Revival to Nick Jonas’s self-titled album. Taking it to another level, however, is our not-so-teen pop icon Justin Bieber.
Gone are the days of egging, DUI arrests and brothel visits. This album has shown an acknowledgement of his actions, and some credible effort with respect to change in musical direction, lyrical themes and most of all, a brand new sound to fit a brand new Justin. Despite having to relinquish a major chunk of his pre-pubescent fan base, there’s a noticeable maturity in the overall feel and musicality of each track, without sounding completely unoriginal.
Taking a look at his 3 singles that made it to the chart top, What Do You Mean and Sorry seem to have a major tropical-house influence, with vocals in the foreground and a simplistic up-tempo dance groove, while Love Yourself is much more on the down-low, with an Ed Sheeran collaboration that’s reminiscent of Outlandish’s Aicha. The lyrical style and implications are a lot less about a vocabulary restricted to ‘baby’ and ‘oh’, and more about your far more important teen breakups and comebacks.
Where Are Ü Now makes for a pleasant listen with the tasteful Skrillex collaboration, gripping attention with ridiculously processed sounds and samples while Bieber manages to be simplistically vocal of his issues. He does make an honest attempt with Children as he addresses his generation and the much-needed good influence that he genuinely wants to provide. Life Is Worth Living, albeit more sullen, still makes for a decent acknowledgement of his serious lack of past judgment.
Mark My Words and I’ll Show You are pretty much wholesomely comprehensible by their titles alone. He’s managed to give it a human touch, though mostly due to his ever so buttery vocals that are unique to this album. Nothing brilliant going on musically with the EDM work, although the point of the songs’ messages was pretty clear to start with.
Big Sean’s feature on No Pressure is a calculated expansion of “I’ve made a few mistakes”, with some RnB thrown in to make the song digestible. The Feeling is probably a lot catchier, though that’s got a lot to do with up-and-coming alternative-pop singer Hasley’s contribution to emphasizing what Bieber has to offer.
Looking at the album as a whole, it was a glorified attempt at righting some loud wrongs in the 21 year-old’s journey. That being said, in this Spotify-age where people majorly dig EDM, hip-hop, party house and their respective permutations and combinations, this album finds its niche. As mention by The Billboard, Purpose is a party record, even though the party’s inside Justin’s head.