Although I’ve been a fan of some of Bieber’s post ‘Baby’ body of work (‘As Long as You Love Me’ is still great) it was undisputed banger ‘What Do You Mean’ which really got me listening. Insanely catchy, yet cool and effortless, there’s a subtlety to its production which showcases Bieber’s angelic vocals like never before. It’s unsurprising therefore, that Biebz and his team seem to have used the track’s post-EDM style for the whole album. Skrillex and Blood Diamonds create similar sensibilities on the soothing pop gems ‘Sorry’ and ‘I’ll Show You’, which both stand up as great singles, whilst the funky optimism of ‘Company’ will get even the biggest non-Belieber tapping their feet.
Unfortunately, although his sweet, breathy vocals remain on point throughout most of the album, the songs don’t always live up to them. Big Sean collaboration ‘No Pressure’ pushes Bieber too far down the R&B route and ends up sounding like generic Ne-Yo fodder and ‘No Sense’ is just plain dull, only made duller by an obviously uninspired Travi$ $cott. ‘Children’ pairs JB’s pompous lyrics (“what about the children, look at all the children…we’re the inspiration”) with a lame EDM drop and ends up sounding like Skrillex being the Bob Geldof for his very own Live Aid.
The worst thing about Purpose, however, is just how self-congratulatory the whole thing is. In almost every song, Biebz revels in his new-found “purpose” in life. He apologises for the past incarnation of himself (drag racing, weed smoking, monkey abandoning bad-boy). In actual fact his past persona was, ironically, far less obnoxious (and a hell of a lot more entertaining) than this awkward bad-boy-gone-good we’re being lumbered with on this album. By the time I get to the spoken word section of the closing title track, I can’t help but wish that Justin might just develop a drug problem and go full-on Courtney Love, just so I don’t have to put up with this quasi-spiritual repentant shit for another album.