Justin Bieber’s ‘Purpose’: Album Review

In the span of three years, Justin Bieber managed to transform himself from the bright-eyed purple hoodie-rocking pre-teen whole captured the hearts of little girls everywhere to becoming a disoriented tattoo’ed TMZ headline. From reckless driving, picking up a DUI in Miami and that infamous egg throwing saga, the star became the diet version of Chris Brown (all while unexpectedly giving us one of pop’s best non-album LPs — 2013’s Journals — in the midst of the media frenzy).

Now, the redeemed 21-year-old wants the world to accept his musical apology in the form of his long-awaited Purpose album (released today, ) — a project that both solidifies Justin’s “Bad Boy Gone Good” persona for the masses (despite a d*ick pic slip-up along the way) as well as gives the naysayers a body of work that they have no choice but to respect him for.

“Oh, I don’t wanna live a lie,” Bieber faintly croons in Purpose opener “Mark My Words” — a floaty, stripped downtempo kicking off a long diary entry that finds the singer unapologetically opening up more than ever before. This album is a solid, assured chapter in a career that was riddled with flaws — and “I’ll Show You” (the second track) helps to put the shattered pieces back together. The Skrillex-produced brooding tune picks up where the R&B-flecked Journals left off, with the singer trying to right his wrongs: “Don’t forget that I’m human, don’t forget that I’m real.” It is Bieber in his rawest form.

Critics may frame Purpose as the artist’s comeback, but that would be incorrect. He has always been sonically ahead of the curve in a sense (let’s not forget he once pulled off a collaboration with Future, a rapper who couldn’t be played in white-washed suburbia back in 2013). So with the back-to-back firestorms that are “What Do You Mean?” “Sorry” and “Where Are Ü Now?,” Bieber proved that he is still able to top the charts with ease. You wouldn’t dare think the Beliebers would stop supporting him, would you?

“What Do You Mean?” brought tropical house to the mainstream and is hands down one of the best dance-pop songs of 2015. “Sorry,” the album’s few but hard-hitting tunes about ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez, is a few notches above of its single predecessor. The combination of Dancehall flair (unfortunately like his Canadian counterpart Drake, I wish Justin properly acknowledged that obvious influence more often) and the continued trend of his “come hither” laid-back vocals is one that has been unmatched this year. As for “Where Are Ü Now?” Justin’s team would have been fools to not include this song on the album. It took over the entire year, solidified a genre-bending sound (remember those dolphin squeals?) that was bubbling underground and ultimately became the best single of his career thus far.

But like Bieber himself, Purpose has its flawed moments. Sure he did some pretty idiotic and law-breaking things when he was a kid, but why does he have to keep apologizing for it years later? In 2015, his mission should not be about winning back the hearts of crazed teenage girls and their overbearing soccer moms! Justin is at his most mature state, and his current audience should be more grown and even more sensible.

As an older Belieber, I think the pop star should no longer expect to still be a role model because it is affecting his music. “Life Is Worth Living” is a introspective ballad that comes in almost at the middle of the album, and blatantly shows that Bieber trying to clean up his bad boy image: “I ain’t perfect won’t deny, my reputation is on the line.” The disingenuous tone unfortunately continues with the throwaway “Earth Song” 2.0 dance tune “Children” (glow sticks sold separately) and the album’s title track, which is yet another “Please accept me!” piano-based ballad.

Thankfully, the album picks back up with a vibe that Justin has conquered time and time again — an urban R&B/pop fusion. Fans of his unofficial “Biebervelli” persona will be more than satisfied with songs like the futuristic, sweltering LP highlight “No Pressure,” which finds him collaborating with Big Sean once again, and the Travi$ Scott-featured “No Sense” that is a woozy, static-infused cruiser with Kanye West’s production influence written all over it.

Purpose marks Justin Bieber’s third proper studio effort, which means the 21-year-old still has a lot of soul-searching to do. Like all of us, the singer is nowhere near perfect — but his mistakes were just ballooned to be devoured by the hungry media. It is no doubt Justin’s best collective LP thus far and shows that he is finally confident in revealing his true artistry. And that is nothing to be sorry about, so keep your needy apologies to yourselves.

Recommended Songs: “Sorry,” “No Pressure,” “We Are” featuring Nas

Idolator Score: 4/5

— Bianca Gracie

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