Aaaaand, finally. FINALLY. With every new Justin Bieber song we hear, that’s the only exclamation of relief we turn to. The erratic behaviour, the endless thundercuntery, and the interviews that invariably end up being one long cringe. Finally it’s all been given, well, Purpose.
“It’s like they want me to be perfect,” he sings on the Skrillex-produced I’ll Show You, following a relatively subdued opener. It’s both lament and passive-but-pointed statement of intent; in the past we might have lol’d and rolled our eyes at a woe-is-Biebs “life’s not easy when you’re made of steel” moment of self-pity, but the way it’s delivered over perfectly restrained production actually makes us root for him. The quiet confidence of that chorus doesn’t read as a threat, but a point to prove. Quite possibly to himself.
Purpose does feel like a renaissance for Bieber, and also the dawn of self-awareness rarely available to stars with his history. We’re watching a scathing dissection of celebrity life from someone very much in the middle of it, whether it’s the vain freeloader in Love Yourself (wonderfully penned by Ed Sheeran), or the straightforward acknowledgement of Sorry. These aren’t just pop songs, then – they’re enjoyable layers of revelation beyond the usual loving and shagging a male star entertains, that too over hella addictive beats.
That’s what it all comes down to, really. Bieber’s maturity might all be well and good, but without decent tunes it’d be a bit of a shrug. He has those in droves thanks to the canny choice of colleagues; even though there’s a saggy section with The Feeling (featuring the world’s most overrated new pop person Halsey) and a song as tired as its title in Life Is Worth Living, it’s re-energised by the almighty Children which gives the record one last squelchy-chorus dancefloor-botherer and sorts Bieber out as proper pop king-in-waiting. FINALLY.
Purpose by Justin Bieber can be ordered here.