Whether it be to climb Everest, become a parent, be the next Zuckerberg, or create one of the biggest pop album’s of the year, everyone has a purpose.
Justin Bieber has more than successfully fulfilled the latter category. After the underwhelming response garnered with the release of his 2013 collection of new material and remixes ‘Journals’, he needed to make a comeback. And my God, make a comeback he did.
‘Purpose’ was released on November 13th, after four singles had dropped (including the groundbreaking pop sensations ‘What Do You Mean’ and ‘Sorry’). As is custom for my album reviews, I’m going to quickly touch on the artwork. Before I had even laid eyes on the ‘Purpose’ artwork, I had heard about the controversy that it had created. The album artwork has been banned in all Middle-Eastern countries and Indonesia for the misuse of potentially offensive religious iconography. When you see it, you can see why. It also ties in with his faith, which he lets shine through more than usual in this record. Bieber is known to be a proud reborn Christian, and it’s definitely obvious through the visuals and sounds of this album. Having said that, I’m a huge fan of the artwork, showing JB in a new light: slightly darker, more mature and more complex, which can be said for how the album sounds as well.
Let’s just get this out of the way in case this is where you decide to stop reading: I love ‘Purpose’. It’s one of my favourite releases of this year. Sonically and instrumentally it’s levels above current equivalents (e.g. One Direction), and it shows a darker and more palatable track list that can be loved by more than just the 13-year-old female demographic.
In case you’re still here, here’s why I like it. I tend to keep an ear pricked for production quality and dynamics, due to being on the other side of songwriting myself, and the aforementioned on ‘Purpose’ is flawless. The beat production and ingenuity are some of the best I’ve come across in a modern pop record (proof: ‘The Feeling’ at 3 minutes and 5 seconds), not including fusion electro- pop albums such as Disclosure’s ‘Caracal’ (incredible in its own right). With the help of Skrillex and Diplo, as well as many other talented producers, it’s clear that the beats behind the Biebs have taken a massive step up.
Stand out tracks for me (besides the pre-released singles because obviously ‘What Do You Mean?’ is an absolute banger) include ‘Company’ (produced with the aid of two incredible New Zealander’s Jimmy Wong and Leroy Clampitt), ‘The Feeling’ featuring Halsey (probably my favourite), ‘All In It’ and ‘We Are’ featuring Nas (it has Nas, enough said).
If you still haven’t found a reason to listen to this record, the features might get you there. With the help of Big Sean, Travi$ Scott, Halsey, Nas and Ariana Grande, could you really ask for anything more?
The one downturn of the record is that it lacks some momentum in parts. While songs like ‘Mark My Words’, ‘Purpose’ and ‘Life is Worth Living’ have great messages and all, they definitely drag the album, especially with the first listed, which I consider a relatively weak opening to a great record.
All in all, it’s fair to say I’m a fan. It’s got something for everyone, whether you’re an audio nerd or just jam what's on the radio, or you lie somewhere in between. Good sounds, and that’s all you can really ask for.