The last few years have been an uphill battle for Justin Bieber to regain his composure, but after mounds of negative press, things seemed to start to take shape for the 21-year-old artist earlier this year.
His perfectly timed feature on Jack Ü’s hit “Where Are Ü Now” shot Justin back to #1 for the first time in years, perfectly setting the stage for his even bigger return to music with his third proper LP, Purpose — well, his fourth if you count Mistletoe (which we do).
2015 is the year Justin’s worked towards shedding his previous persona and has taken the world by storm by bringing together all our favourite celebrities to get us excited for his new tracks. Not to mention his numerous talkshow appearances around the world showing us that he’s apologetic and, well, sorry.
It’s safe to say, it really isn’t too late to apologize. Justin has spent the year reinventing himself — but staying true to himself in the process — and getting us ready for the big drop of “Purpose.”
Does Purpose hold up to the new and improved Justin Bieber that has people raving? Let’s find out:
1. Mark My Words
This is either a throwback to the prepubescent Bieber days or a duet with a chipmunk — we’re kidding. Despite the “no no no’s” the album opener is a soft, swelling ballad, and sets the thematic tone for the album when he sings, “I won’t let us fade away, after all that we’ve been through.”
2. I’ll Show You
The lethal duo of Skrillex and Bieber, possibly Justin’s best collaboration since Zedd stepped in on “Beauty and a Beat,” starts boiling the figurative kettle of the album. “I’ll Show You” is a slow motion dream levitating above a bed of feathers. The revolving, chewy synth bites through softly and pulls you to the next level. Get comfortable because that’s where you’ll be hanging out for the next few songs.
3. What Do You Mean?
“What Do You Mean” was the first taste of new music we got back in August. It opens with a clock ticking, presumably signifying the 3.5 years we’ve been waiting for new music. This song defines the moment in music that we realized that a Peter Pan flute-like instrument stole one of the coolest sounding melodies of 2015.
Right click > Add to playlist “Bieber Bangers”. I’ve tried listening to this song without rocking my body in my chair and learned that it’s not possible. Back we go to the superb production work of Sonny Moore. Digitally distorted horn instruments? Pitched-up, twisted vocal samples? I don’t even care what that beat is made from, this song will make bedrooms/cubicles/vehicles explode for the next few years.
5. Love Yourself
This one kicks off with a slow guitar line reminiscent of the music by the track’s co-writer Ed Sheeran. The chilled out vibe of this song ensures you haven’t set your room on fire in excitement only 5 songs in. It’s a break-up song, one that has Justin painfully admitting, “My mama don’t like you, and she likes everyone.”
80’s-tinged beats, trickling synths, percussive shakers, deep bass, skittering drums, and ‘ooh oohs’ swish around your ears on “Company.” Justin hopefully and desperately reaches, “can we be each other’s company?”
7. No Pressure (feat. Big Sean)
I’m getting anxious in my seat, waiting to be lifted up and thrown out of a window with the album’s next hit. It’s vocally strong, with Justin elegantly hitting high notes — then Big Sean shows up with a very forgettable verse and thankfully exits the album swiftly.
8. No Sense (feat. Travis Scott)
I’m visually painting a picture of a deep cave, where Justin wanders casually before running into Travis. They high five, Travis raps a few lines, and then they both go home. The instrumentals feature stomping distortion that emerges once Bieber comes in urgently singing “it don’t make no sense” — it’s one of the weaker grammatical moments on the album.
9. The Feeling (feat. Halsey)
As someone who got into Halsey pretty late in the game, to see her name pop up in this album had me proper excited. All my anticipation was warranted when the chorus slams in, filled to the brim with acoustic percussion, electronic drums, swimming synths, electronic flourishes, and apparently every sound that I want right now. “Am I in love with you, am I in love with you?” Well yes, Halsey, we’re in love with you.
10. Life Is Worth Living
You can almost picture Justin sitting alone at a grand piano in all white, his surroundings blacked out, performing in different areas: a church, an 18th century home, a forest, a foggy suburban street. I can’t help but see all these tracks as music videos.
11. Where Are Ü Now
I have to be honest; having this song on the album feels a bit cheap. If this song wasn’t one of the biggest of the year, would it have found a place here? I’m not sure of the answer to that, but instead I’m going to bring myself back to February 27th 2015, the day Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü was released. At 0:43 when Justin asks us “where are you now?,” well, I almost slammed my headphones down and handed over the trophy of best line delivery of all time to him right then and there. Then the dolphin-like pitched up and distorted vocal sample swings in and knocks the song out of the park.
Ok, yup. This is the one. This is what I’ve been waiting for. On “Children,” the massive beat bubbling over the brim is the one that steals the show, arguably one of the biggest moments of Purpose. It’s like all the most hyped moments of the album thrown in a blender with a few tabs of speed and chugged right before bungee jumping off a cliff in Peru. Where did all my clothes go?
Justin has a way of singing in a dramatic, urgent manner that demands your undivided attention. It’ll swallow a song hole. His soft, reverberated vocals glaze over a lonely piano as the album’s bookend takes its place. Nearing the final moments, a voice recording comes in, featuring a genuine, unfiltered moment with Bieber. It summarizes the narrative he wants to carry along with himself in the future.
Purpose is currently available in stores and online.