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Album Review: Purpose by Justin Bieber

Miles Klotz, Staff Writer

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Justin Bieber is no longer the teenage heartthrob singer he was several years ago. Now 21, a tattoo-laden and once-arrested Bieber has grown into a full blown pop artist. His latest album, Purpose, demonstrates the Canadian singer at new heights. On a new label (Def Jam Recordings), Bieber is among a host of talented beat-makers such as Skrillex, Soundz, and collaborated with rap legends such as Nas and upcoming hip-hop hotshots Travis Scott and Big Sean.

 

From day one of the album’s announcement, it seemed destined for stardom — the lead single “What Do You Mean” was only the 23rd song to debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 since the chart’s inception in 1958, and EDM collaboration “Where Are You Now” with Skrillex and Diplo was a top 10 hit in eleven different countries. But Purpose straddles boundaries that Bieber has not reached before.

 

Purpose’s production is stellar, ranging from bouncy, EDM-trap beats from Skrillex on songs such as “The Feeling”, to piano melodies on the title track and guitar strings throughout the memorable “Love Yourself”. While sometimes, Bieber’s voice puts his beats to good use (such as the terrific Halsey-assisted chorus on “The Feeling”), often times, the biggest detractor to this album is Bieber himself.

 

Predictably, as he aged, Bieber’s voice deepened, his vocal range increased, and his singing just improved in general. Lyrically, this isn’t anything apart from a standard pop record. He touches on deeper topics on “Love Yourself”, with his family, over the somber instrumental, but this album doesn’t usually extend past the standard female topics Bieber has touched his entire career. That’s fine, but it makes for a boring recipe through thirteen tracks and just over 45 minutes of music.

 

Though there are some other flaws on this record (Scott’s verse sounds phoned-in with an over-used helping of Auto-tune), there are plenty of positives to look at. Weak choruses that littered his previous releases and singles are gone. The album is easily his most mature project yet, even more than 2013’s Journals. And there are no more tracks that are unbearable to listen to – this album is enjoyable from front to back.

 

All in all, Purpose is one of the better pop records this year, a year filled with top-shelf pop albums. Comparisons to Justin Timberlake are very premature, but if Purpose is Bieber’s version of Justified, it’s scary to think where his potential will take him in the future.

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Album Review: Purpose by Justin Bieber