It’s been five years since Justin Bieber released his last album. During this time, he has gotten married and revealed he has Lyme Disease. So, it feels apt that his new album is called ‘Changes’. This is a more mature sounding Bieber. It builds on the trap percussion and woozy synths of 2015’s ‘Purpose’. It makes the sheer pop of ‘My World’ feel like it was released by a different artist.
And, in a way, it was. When Bieber emerged as a 13-year-old teen idol he was thrust into the spotlight, since then he has grown up, mostly in public. Now at 25 he has released his coming of age album.
The album opens with the lyrics “not sure what I was doing before ya. I quit tryna figure it out,” then adds “Nothin’ like havin’ someone for you”. Here Bieber is addressing his more stable relationship status. In a way its comforting to hear that he’s happy and settled down, but on ‘Habitual’ he croons “we're each other's vice. Our feelings, they go deep, deeper than the touching” again another reference to his domestic blissdom.
As ‘Changes’ goes on this is the main theme. Of every song. The same story about being happy and content. This is great, but after a while, coupled with the low tempo backing tracks, it starts to merge into one.
Near the end of the album things change slightly with ‘E.T.A.’ and the title track ‘Changes’. Here Bieber sounds his most confessional. All he’s really saying is “Where are you? I’m here!” and how he’s going through, well, changes. After an hour of “I’m so happy” and a consistent low tempo electronic pallet it sounds revolutionary, but it’s not. And this is one of the main issues with the album.
Firstly, it could do with some trimming. At 16 tracks at 51 minutes it’s hardly the prog epic ‘Tales’ by Yes, Metallica’s ‘Load’ or The Flaming Lip’s ‘7 Skies H3’, the 24-hour experimental album. ‘Changes’ could easily have lost two or three tracks for the inevitable ‘deluxe’ repack in a few months.
However, the main problem with ‘Changes’ is that it isn’t exciting or dynamic and suffers from dragging in places. Part of this is down to the lack of variation on the album. Yes, the backing tracks sound great and Bieber’s voice is strong, but the songs never really go anywhere or do anything. Other than start and stop. They open with a low tempo beat, post-dubstep synths and electronics swirl around a bit, a guest spot appears and disappears, then the song ends. All we really learn is that Bieber has gone through, well, changes. He’s in a good relationship, he got married, recently revealed he has Lyme disease, and is getting treatment to help address the disease.
As he says “I'm goin' through changes. I'm goin' through changes. Though I'm goin' through changes. Don't mean that I'll change”.
After listening to ‘Changes’ maybe it is a musical change that he needs?
Words: Nick Roseblade
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