UNIVERSAL MUSIC, Rs 395
Teen idol Justin Bieber’s highly-anticipated new album brings a whole new material of lyrical content. Three years since his last album Believe, the pop sensation returns with his fourth and most personal album yet, Purpose. The 13-track album finds a mature Bieber, now 21, taking risks as he embarks on a new chapter in his career, singing about the ups and downs of fame, relationships, and persecution by the media. Purpose finds him incorporating elements of dance, R&B, electronica, and hip-hop into his songs.
To create a new groove this time, Bieber collaborated with Big Sean, Travis Scott, and Halsey, with production from Skrillex, Diplo. Purpose takes some risks, but doesn’t stray too far from the sound that Bieber came with, which could likely earn him new fans while not abandoning the old ones.
One of the album’s strongest moments is Mark My Words which is low on instrumentation, with Bieber’s vocals the prime focus. I’ll Show You has a good build-up and heavy baseline with lyrics that plead for clemency — “Don’t forget that I’m human, don’t forget that I’m real…” Clock-chiming seems to hit on the bouncy What Do You Mean? through its flip flops sound. Its punchy effect and great vibe has made it a dance hit. Mid-tempo R&B groove gets a welcome spin from EDM master Skrillex on Where Are You Now? Bieber sets out with a giant apology to his ex, Selena Gomez, with super sassy great beats on Sorry. All three pieces will pull you onto the dance floor.
On Love Yourself, an Ed Sheeran co-write, Bieber sings, “If you like the way you look that much / Baby, you should go and love yourself…” Lyrically satisfying, the song strips back effectively to a guitar line and vocals, in which Bieber dismisses an ex-girlfriend.
The second half of the album is monochromatic and a bit depressing with Company, and No Sense which is a bit of a let down even though Travis Scott pops up towards the end. No Pressure, featuring Big Sean, is a slow jam you could probably skip. Life Is Worth Living, a piano ballad, has a few good moments to make it a replay, while title track Purpose is well worth a second audition.
Bieber is transitioning into manhood with some timely help from producers from the pop and electronic world. The album repositions the once troubled child star as an R&B lover boy. For whatever wrong he has done in the past, one listen to this album and you’ll want to forget everything and love him again.
Verus Ferreira is a freelance music journalist for over three decades, contributing articles to various newspapers and magazines. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book. Besides being a music aficionado, he is also a photo-journalist. He contributes to Musicunplugged.in.