2021 • POP • RBMG/DEF JAM
Canadian singer Justin Bieber’s sixth album makes up for all the mistakes of his latest release but still doesn’t go beyond pop romantic songs.
Last year’s Changes was a stain on Justin Bieber’s career that will probably always be remembered as the worst thing the Canadian singer has ever released in his life. The album was anticipated for five years, since the release of 2015’s Purpose. However, when it arrived, Bieber’s fifth album was a set of generic and messy tracks with trap beats and lyrics about his sex life. Basically, it was a long and tiring album of almost 20 songs, filled with poor lyrics and bad taste. It was also an album that seemed to throw away all the artistic advancement he had been building throughout his career. However, a little over a year after his worst album, Bieber announces his sixth record, which, despite not having something so surprising and interesting, at least compensates for the Changes’ lack of quality.
Although Justice is not a good pop album itself, the fact that it simply pays off the worst factors in Changes makes it minimally decent. Leaving aside the cringe moment of Martin Luther King’s speeches, Justice has ambitious and fun songs, although the vast majority are generic and Bieber seems to really believe that his music is much stronger than it really is. On the one hand, they are better than anything in Changes, on the other hand, they do not go beyond what he did five or six years ago. In the end, Justice really does justice to Bieber’s career for all that Changes have done, but you ask yourself, “Did Bieber really suffer so much injustice to the point of using a Luther King speech?”
The answer is no. Although Bieber, as he himself says on the last track on the album, suffered from fame early on and lived in a “house made of glass,” Justin seems to be pushing it here. He is a straight, white man who uses MLK lines that were used in racist fights for justice in songs that are simply an outburst about him being famous all along and always having to endure some nasty comments on the internet. The worst thing, too, is not this oversized and exaggerated appropriation, but the fact that Bieber really seems to believe it and does not deliver music that is up to the concept he imagined in his head. It’s a lot of good ideas, after all, but the execution doesn’t do it justice.
However, despite all these conceptual and contextual issues about Bieber’s inflated view of himself, Justice shows some really good tracks. The single “Holy,” a collaboration with Chance the Rapper, is one of the best on the album, with a good production and catchy lyrics. With the help of gospel vocals and synthetic voices, Bieber managed to build a very nice parallel between love and religiosity. Meanwhile, in “Ghost,” Justin talks about both the importance of their relationship to him and the people who have passed away, he sings, “Your memory is ecstasy/I miss you more than life.” Mention also for the single “Anyone,” which even with the generic instrumental still sounds quite honest. But the best on the album is “Die For You,” with Dominic Fike, a track with retro influences from the 80s with pretty decent lyrics — you could say that Bieber took a look at what The Weeknd and Dua Lipa were doing and knew how to do his own interpretation of this throwback movement.
On the other hand, as said before, there are songs here that, although they are not bad, do not go beyond what Bieber already did a few years ago on his album Purpose. “Deserve You,” “Peaches,” “Love You Different,” and “Loved By You” are the best examples of this with him in front of synthesizers and with his voice projected away with the aid of digital desks. In composition, basically a romantic dependence in some way. On the other hand, there are others that are pretty bad or totally unnecessary. While “Off My Face” is relatively cool but forgettable, “Unstable,” with The Kid LAROI, seems unfinished, and “Hold On,” despite having potential, has an anti-climactic chorus and too weak verses. Even the last track, which is a very intimate confession, ended up losing its potential thanks to the chorus with electronic synthesizers. It felt like Bieber wanted to push this song like a hit and an intimate song at the same time — but it didn’t work. From now on, we can only hope for something better and that Bieber understands his place and knows how to make the most of his talent.