Justin Bieber is well into remaking his path and recovering from his tumultuous late teen years, when he was forced to discover himself with the entire world watching.
He has returned to let the music speak for itself, showcasing touching honesty and vulnerability on his first full-length album since 2012, Purpose.
It begins with “Mark My Words,” a beautiful, crooning ballad; by his own admission, it was written with his first love, Selena Gomez, in mind. It carves a story about regret, but the determination to move on, making it the perfect song to set the stage for the album.
“I’ll Show You” is the perfect recap of his hardest years as a star. The lyrics, flowing well over a dynamic pop beat, reflect on the media and the public pretending to know who he really is, all while he battled with pain no one saw. His vocals shine on this one, emphasizing the emotional undertone.
“What Do You Mean?” is, of course, the lead single that catapulted him to the top of the charts and really announced to the world that Bieber was back. EDM at its finest, with catchy, yet relevant lyrics, Bieber manages to marry his newfound strengths with this one—more mature vocals and a beat you can’t resist.
“Sorry” was the follow-up to “WDYM,” and what a sophomore single it is. Combining EDM, a distinct dancehall rhythm, and some sensual lyricism, it is one killer track. Admittedly, he took a huge risk with this one, and managed to nail it as if he were born to vocalize over an EDM beat.
“Love Yourself” is a passive-aggressive pop/R&B track alluding to the idea that an opportunistic female may have played Bieber for a fool at one point—and he’s calling her all the way out with this song. His vocals are smooth, his verbal “screw you” is crystal clear, and the rhythm shines as a somewhat-mournful guitar follows his voice.
“Company” is absolutely one of my favorites on this album. The production here is such a fantastic combination of pop & R&B vibes (taking me back to some of the male vocal groups of the 90s, even), and his seductive vocals are well-suited to the song’s subject. This is a track that lends to the maturity he’s inched his way into with his music over the years.
“No Pressure” is entirely R&B, with clear influences from some of the most popular veterans in the genre, yet with a distinctive Bieber stamp.
The production and lyricism for “No Sense” leans more in a hip-hop direction, which has its strengths and weaknesses for Bieber. The highlights lie between choruses, when he stretches his vocals higher and higher; it’s seriously impressive.
“The Feeling” is my ABSOLUTE favorite here. It features Halsey, a rising star who has already made her mark with her debut album. The duo’s earnest vocals are a perfect fit against the slightly pounding, electronic beat, weaving a love story rife with the confusion we all know and don’t understand: “Am I in love with you or am I in love with the feeling?” Their harmonies leave nothing to be desired, and the solos blended into the rhythm are unreal.
“Life Is Worth Living” is a piano-strong ballad about love, his vocals yearning, but hopeful.
‘Where Are U Now” needs little introduction. Skrillex, Diplo, and Bieber blew everyone away with this surprise release over the summer, EDM with a hint of soul and a few well-crafted, high-energy dance breaks.
“Children” is a refreshingly mature look at the world, pleading for kindness and a generation empowered to make a difference. It’s an interesting angle to take rhythmically; he went for an electronic, energetic beat that, in the end, is probably a good way to speak to the demographic he appeals to most.
Bieber pours his heart out on “Purpose,” another piano-focused track. Lyrically, it embodies everything he said about the album before its release, finishing with an audio clip of himself offering encouragement to his fans.
The additional tracks on the deluxe version seem to be an ode to eras that came before Bieber, and I’m certainly not complaining:
“Been You” is such a vibrant pop song, one with an almost ’70s vibe. There aren’t any above and beyond vocal efforts here, just a feel-good track with a great rhythm.
“Get Used To It” has a similar feel to “Been You,” although its rhythm is a bit more mellow. There’s a definite beauty to this beat, one that’s hard to describe, but easily felt. The vocals? A+.
“We Are” actually gives me a Chris Brown vibe—the two artists have proven more than once that they work well together musically, so this isn’t such a reach. I’m 50/50 on the track, but it has its moments.
“Trust” is another track that I’m 50/50 on. The beat leaves something to be desired for me, and the lyrical flow is a little off.
“All In It” bounces back well, R&B with a twist and some great vocal lifts that immediately stand out. The chorus has a perfect flow, but lyrically and rhythmically. A perfect ending to the album, really.
The “What Do You Mean?” acoustic is quintessential Bieber; slowed down, the song is even more appealing. It’s like magic. Seriously.
Conclusion? Justin Bieber has come into his own, successfully crafted a more mature sound, and is set to take over the charts for the foreseeable future.
What do you think of Purpose? Let us know in the comments.