ARTIST OF THE MONTH: JUSTIN BIEBER
Justin Bieber's highly anticipated fifth studio album was released through Def Jam Recordings and RBMG on February 14, 2020. The album was released on Valentine's Day, which was fitting since the album contains odes to Hailey Baldwin, whom he married in 2018. "Changes," Bieber explained, is “super dedicated to his wife.” His marriage permeates the album, with most of the songs clearly written about their relationship. His last album, the earworm stuffed, electro-R&B-tinged "Purpose," came out in 2015, and since he wrapped the world tour in support of it in 2017, he took somewhat of a step back. He did occasionally release the world-beating ‘Despacito’ and his collaboration with BloodPop ‘Friends’ and a handful of live appearances.
In an age when most pop albums are created by committee, "Changes" is one of the most cohesive The spare, acoustic opening track "All Around Me" floats into the gently percussive "Habitual," which floats into the springtime step of "Come Around Me," like an extended love suite. Bieber is more concerned with setting a mood than pumping out hooks, and then "Intentions," all jaunty, roof-down swinging, comes along and offers the closest thing to a conventional pop melody on the album. "Yummy," the lead single has a maddeningly and irresistibly repetitive hook that praises the pleasures of making love stoned, comes next, cementing Bieber's new calling: a Canadian D'Angelo for white-girl Beliebers who are now old enough to understand that grown-up love doesn't actually feel anything like "Baby," Bieber's early, equally repetitious hit.
This is not just a formidable soul man's coming of age. It's also the emergence of a brand new Bieber, a happily married 25-year-old with everything to lose. It's no surprise that he chose to release it on the romantic holiday that he did. Bieber is truly, madly, deeply in it here, but love is more than mutual admiration. Like life, it's messy and complicated, and so is the path that leads us there. In the five years since his last album, Bieber has taken many twists and turns. There have been various romantic entanglements, bad-boy tantrums and a near-meltdown that had Bieber cancelling dates on his "Purpose" tour and quitting social media. It took a circle of writers and producers to construct the songs on "Changes," but the lyrics sound 100 percent Bieber. By the end of its 51 minutes (a surprisingly short running time for 17 tracks), Bieber has drilled home the point: He's hopelessly in love. Good for him and his bride. "Changes" is an album for lovers, for Valentine's Days, and all the candlelit evenings between them.
Overall, while "Changes" is not Bieber’s worst work, it is not his best. However, several cuts from this project have definitely made playlists and rotations throughout the world. Don’t get it twisted, though; "Changes" does not take away from Bieber’s discography or legacy. It is a pretty good album that paints a sweet picture of being young and happy in love. Several of the songs possess a quality much like wine: they tend to get better over time as you play them over and over. With his first album in nearly 5 years, "Changes" reminds both long-time and new fans that JB can bring that soulful R&B flavour.