Review Summary: We've moved beyond prior indiscretions, Justin. It'd be nice if you could do the same.
It speaks to the strength of the material that 10-months removed from "Where Are Ü Now", the clear standout of Skrillex and Diplo's generally awful Jack Ü project, audience's remain genuinely confident in the abilities of the new and improved Justin Bieber. That momentum can largely be attributed to "What Do You Mean"" and "Sorry", which kept afloat the idea that Bieber hadn't discovered maturity as much as he had learnt how to construct and deliver well-made, addictive pop songs. As such, the resurrection narrative built around Purpose
- aptly surmised by Hannibal Buress as, '[an] extremely transparent attempt to be more likable in the public eye'- has become tiresome. Justin Bieber's reputation has certainly come a long way in the last 12 months; however, much of that is less to do with the frantic over-apologizing than it has the fact he's become a better musician. Nevertheless, the promotional campaign has trudged on despite itself, taking every opportunity to load subtle, well-constructed, and hooky pop songs with retribution drivel.
The standard Bieber has set for himself in recent months has been met in the majority of Purpose
, avoiding disappointment if not by the merit of its lead singles alone. The majority of the material finds itself in a miasma of uncool influences- pan flutes, dolphin noises, Skrillex- coalescing in a surprisingly well-rounded fashion. Aside from misplaced appearances from Travi$ Scott and Halsey and an all-together dreadful contribution from Ed Sheeran in "Love Yourself", Bieber tends to perform best when he plays to the strengths of his subtle and leisurely singles (see: "Company"). Alternatively, Purpose
falters in its cloying desire for personal redemption, utterly blasé when Bieber is wont to plead for forgiveness. At its best, it's an interesting topic of lyrical diversion amongst the distorted porpoise sounds of "Sorry" and "I'll Show You". At its worst- namely bland crooners like "No Pressure" and "Life is Worth Living"- it's overbearingly remorseful, unwilling to graduate past the desire to be taken seriously. Bieber doesn't need to constantly apologize, though, because when Purpose
focuses on well-produced pop songs, you don't find yourself caring about his context. We've moved beyond prior indiscretions, Justin. It'd be nice if you could do the same.