A year ago, few people would have expected Justin Bieber to have the level of success this year that he’s had in the past few months — except, perhaps, his manager Scooter Braun, who hinted at the time that Bieber was on the brink of making “history” with legendary producer Rick Rubin. At the time, however, the then 20-year-old pop star was in the midst of a string of legal issues, ranging from egging a neighbours house to an alleged DUI while drag racing. Despite all of the drama, Bieber remains a mainstay at the top of the music world.
On Purpose, Bieber’s voices his regrets — while emphasising his rekindled spirituality and the unfair expectations and judgements that accompany fame — over a backdrop of production best described as a synthesis of dance music and modern R&B. The singer’s evolved sound seems to be a product of the album’s most significant collaborators, namely Rubin and Skrillex.
Other than previously released singles ‘Sorry’ and ‘What Do You Mean?’, the best song
on the album is ‘Company’, a funk-laced single-in-waiting. While the album undoubtedly has its
bright spots and a plethora of current and future radio hits, it’s far from perfect. None of its features seem to accomplish anything, despite perhaps Houston rapper Travis Scott’s short appearance at the end of ‘No Sense’. Big Sean provides an underwhelming, lazy verse on ‘No Pressure’, and pop sensation Halsey’s appearance on ‘The Feeling’ simply feels out of the place in context of the album’s electronic emphasis. However, the album’s cringe-worthy closing monologue is undoubtedly its low point, as Bieber states he “wasn’t necessarily put in the best position to make the best decisions”, and that “God is perfect and he never disappoints, so I just get my recognition from Him and give Him my recognition”.
With that being said, Purpose is a step in the right direction for Bieber, without question. While it’s unrealistic to call this a comeback album, Bieber seems to have succeeded in his obvious efforts to reinvent his childish image, and to, at the same time, repair some of the damage done by his run-ins with the law. The future is as bright as ever for the Canadian star, thanks in large part to the surrounding cast at his disposal.