It’s been over 6 years since ‘Bieber Fever’ first infected the nation and it has certainly been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the Canadian and his fans. With his previous album being released all the way back in 2012, we take a look at the new album ‘Purpose’ and the new, matured Bieber sound.
I, admittedly, would never have previously deemed myself as a so-called ‘belieber’. However at the same time, I didn’t dislike him. I certainly didn’t fall into the category of people who desired to throw a water bottle at him on stage. I listened and enjoyed a fair amount of Justin’s music. As a DJ though, I always wanted more than that. I wanted music that excited me, that changed the industry. Bieber didn’t meet that criteria for me. Until now.
‘Purpose’ is the first of his four albums that I have eagerly awaited. And I’m sure I’m not alone. For months prior to the album, speculation started about collaborations that would be included. Many of these, unfortunately, did not materialise. For example, there is no Drake and Bieber follow up to 2012’s track ‘Right Here’ as some would have expected. Justin himself and many others hinted towards a Kanye West collaboration, and although there seems to be some Kanye influence on the album, there is no mention of Mr West on any of the tracks credits. This isn’t to say that the album doesn’t come with some very impressive and interesting features…
The first is of course the Justin Bieber and Skrillex bromance. With the help of Diplo, the three of them conquered dancefloors across the country with smash hit ‘Where Are U Now’. The track uses dubbed vocals, a piano melody and a bass-heavy drop and has led to huge success not only commercially but on the club scene too. Skrillex is responsible for a further 4 tracks on the album. This includes new single ‘Sorry,’ which is not only a very good track but also included a very clever video that did not feature Justin at all. This, shows how Justin is moving towards being all about the music and is a move towards humbling himself, and let’s be honest, he needed to. The other three tracks from Skrillex being ‘Children,’ ‘The Feeling’ and ‘I’ll Show You’. ‘Children’ is classic Skrillex, a big electronic drop layered with Justin’s vocal. We see a versatile Skrillex with the other two tracks, ‘I’ll Show You’ being much mellower and ‘The Feeling’, featuring female vocalist Halsey and having a much more alternative feel. I am a big fan of the Skrillex/Bieber link up. For the first time Bieber is creating a sound that other artists will look to imitate. Skrillex is versatile and ahead of the game and hats off to Justin for giving him so much influence on the album.
After Where Are U Now, Bieber released What Do You Mean?’ another dance track from the album. This had the UK number 1 for 5 weeks and was Justin’s biggest charting success in the UK. The tropical synths in the track made it reflective of what is popular in the house scene at the moment and was again, a huge hit in the clubs. Following the success that arose from the higher tempo, more dance influenced tracks, you would expect Bieber to keep this theme throughout the album. Unfortunately not.
This isn’t to say the other tracks on the album aren’t worth a listen. ‘Love Yourself’ is a collaboration between JB and the talented Ed Sheeran and includes guitar riffs and some beautiful harmonies. A personal favourite of mine, Life Is Worth Living includes a powerful piano melody and a stripped back Bieber vocal. Anyone who follows the Justin and Selena saga may be interested in knowing that Mark My Words, along with Sorry and What Do You Mean, is ‘influenced’ by the break up…
Bieber also implements a real soulful/R&B sound into the album. No Pressure for example, has a catchy hook and features Big Sean to give it a real urban sound. The album also includes features from hip-hop artist Travi$ Scott in a darker track called ’No Sense’ and rap legend Nas in ‘We Are’. There is an element of funk in track ‘Company ‘and is my bet for Justin’s next release. The rest of the album follows a similar R&B/funk sound, with album titled song Purpose being the exception. The track Purpose is the most emotional track on the album and includes a spoken word segment which really emphasises Bieber’s wish to redeem himself.
Overall, I think the album finds a good balance between pop and lyrical substance. Bieber has made lots of bad decisions over the last few years but has made some very wise ones in regards to the production of this album. I do feel like another dance track wouldn’t have done any harm, bearing in mind we had already heard 3 of the 4 main dance tracks prior to the album being released. It was this dance sound that most excited me and I feel, although diversity is good, more could have been added. The album is certainly a step towards maturity and redemption for Justin and I congratulate him on that. I think it’s fair to say the album is a huge step towards Bieber finding his musical ‘Purpose.’