“Mark my words, that’s all that I have”.
The infamous pop sensation opens his most important release with these words. It’s a cliché that’s been reproduced more times than never wanting the night to end, but analysing the timeline of Justin’s career these lyrics lie stagnant and unmovable – it’s about time we take him seriously.
No question, Where Are Ü Now? and What Do You Mean? are the two catchiest songs of 2015, and it’s these two songs that have turned Justin Bieber from an easy target for internet shaming into a mysterious entity.
While this new release features a large number of collaborations, it’s Justin that’s going to shake everyones predetermined disposition, and whilst its nothing that’s going to change the world, it’s something for soul and hip-hop fans as much as it is for attention-starved adolescents.
Purpose begins by firing off all the singles including I’ll Show You and Sorry, getting all the familiarity out of the way, laying down a foundation to build on using elements reminiscent of early UK garage, soul and pop.
Whilst the format for all songs fits snug into the template of a successful pop song being 4/4, a constant BPM, and three to five minutes long, there’s plenty here for you to indulge in. Behind all the veils of reinvention and conversion this is still a pop record.
What’s refreshing about this release is the essence of modesty – something Bieber has never been admired for.
This album contains many religious elements, lines like “Praying for a miracle” and “I put my all into your hands” gives off strong confessional imagery to go hand-in-hand with the album artwork (banned in some middle-eastern countries due to its religious nature).
There’s spoken word and heartfelt ballads void of club culture content, relying more on the theme of repent.
There comes a time when every pop artist and group hit this level and grow tiresome of “feeding the machine”. In this situation, an act either proves themselves deserving of merit (Justin Timberlake) or unable to steer their career in the right direction when given the reigns (Lee Ryan).
It seems that with the support of main producer Skrillex, Justin Bieber can create a sound that speaks to the younger generations of 2015.
The breathy vocals, Amazonian synth lines and heart-felt orchestration in songs like Life Is Worth Living and Sorry make for innovative steps in Justin’s sound, nodding to game-changing producers Hermitude and Flume in his ability to create hooks reliant heavily on instrumentation rather than vocals.
As mentioned, this is not an album packed full of singles; it’s something to take in slowly. It’s much deeper than a single listen.
What this albums lacks is bravery. Yes, this is a confessional album hoping to repent for Bieber’s sins and relieve himself of guilt, and that comes through beautifully in parts, but it feels as though he’s partly played it safe.
The slow-jam-esque approach in songs like No Sense and Company bring in elements from artists like Drake and Maxwell but the execution is hesitant and a few songs on the album find themselves in limbo and will immediately be deemed as filler-content.
In conclusion, this was a special album for modern pop music, accumulating a mass of big names behind the scenes.
In a time where a debut can launch an act to festival-headlining status, they can fall just as fast. Justin Bieber has always played into the hands of a large consumer market and while Purpose isn’t a shocking departure from this, it does garnish the guy some respect.
This is an album that marks the second chapter of an artists who’s finally able to create in a way that feels organic. There’s a long way to go, but it’s a start.
Featured image supplied by Universal Music Group.