Overall: 'Run of the mill' contemporary album; Bieber's hiatus didn't cultivate artistic growth
Justin Bieber’s released his first full-length album in almost five years, and called it Changes. Between the time gap and title, one might expect thoughtful lyrics and indications of artistic growth. Perhaps something stylistically different or musically experimental would be in store. Not for Bieber. For him, it’s business as usual.
All is more or less the same in every area. To start with the subject matter, it treks the familiar path of eager lust and love. Any mentions of life transitions are vague or spurious. For instance, he professes “...I'm going through changes; don’t mean that I'll change” on the namesake track, but there’s no clarity on what adjustments he’s experiencing. Further, how they’re impeding his efforts to be the “best” he can for his partner.
On the opening “All Around Me,” he sings the following about a mate: “Never thought I could ever be loyal to someone other than myself, I never thought I could ever be a spoiler, guess anything is possible with your help, anything’s possible since you made my heart melt.” These lines are supposed to be romantic and demonstrate his personal development, but they do the opposite. Instead of taking responsibility for his lack of integrity in previous relationships, he insinuates the cause of his behavior was a woman failing to be 'the right one'. This is obnoxious, and certainly doesn’t signify maturation.
The conceptual issues aside, a few numbers are written on an intermediate level. Others are more on the juvenile side (ex. “Intentions”). Several of Bieber’s co-scribes also have production credits, including The Audibles team, HARV, Joshua Gudwin, and Sasha Sirota. His go-to guy, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, leads.
The rhythms of contemporary R&B/hip hop rule the album. The latter 30% shoots for sentimentality with plenty of acoustic guitars and sappy content. Both portions suffer from repetition. While a handful of cuts are moderately appetizing, there’s too much similarity between them. Additionally, there’s little musicality. The instrumentation and arrangements are sparing. All this causes the record to feel lengthy, when it’s only 51 minutes.
Vocally, it seems Bieber hasn’t continued to perfect his skills. You can’t hear any enrichment, and his falsetto sounds weak. His performance on the LP is without character and emotion.
The deficiencies of Changes make it 'run of the mill'. Coming from a popular act after half a decade, shouldn't it be more than that?