Going from a teen star to a serious recording artist is anything but easy. Just ask anyone who isn't Justin Timberlake. But Justin Bieber is certainly giving it his best shot on his first album since entering his 20s. It seems to be working; despite his huge profile, lead single 'What Do You Mean?' was actually his first #1 hit in this country.
It would've been easy for Bieber to release a record of pure EDM bangers that were entirely devoid of personality, but he's actually been a lot more canny than that. 'Purpose' puts a lot of faith in the strength of the melodies underpinning the tracks and, for the most part, it's a smart move. Tracks like 'Sorry' and 'Love Yourself' are deftly understated and certainly demonstrate that Bieber realises his core audience are maturing as he is.
In fact, paradoxically, because of how un-bold the tracks on 'Purpose' are, that in itself makes it a very bold album. It's sensual night music, taking its cues from 1990s R&B and the singer-songwriter confessional style of Ed Sheeran. Even Bieber's guest spot on the Skrillex and Diplo song 'Where Are Ü Now" somehow fits in with the overall introspective aesthetic. The fact that 'Purpose' features some of the hottest writers and producers in the game right now means there's enough going on to hold your interest throughout.
For his first album in over three years, it's difficult to see how this could have gone any better for Bieber – it looks to be a strong move in his transition to adulthood and proves there's far more to him than being a pretty face for schoolgirls to swoon over. Not many people would've seen that coming.
Words: Joe Rivers
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