No matter the artist, every album released has its own unique sound. And I'm not just talking about major contrasts, like Taylor Swift's genre shift from the still country-sounding Red to the pop-y 1989. Though, in this instance, that may ring true. It's just that, especially in pop music where there is a greater range for varying sounds, it's not difficult to assume that Justin Bieber's sound in the Purpose album is different than that of his previous albums. And, though there aren't many times I'd compare them, like Swift, Bieber has also matured and made what feels like a slight genre shift — and his new songs are a reflection of that.
So, what makes Purpose feel like a shift, per say? Eh, maybe that's too strong of a word. Perhaps this is still Bieber's pop sound, just with a greater electronic and dance incorporation throughout the album thus far. Things that have undoubtedly stayed the same? The songs are quite emotional at the root while still being catchy. In fact, this album feels like it's authentic, and so it doesn't leave much room for typical pop gripe about songs being prosaic. And, you know, in addition to that, he's already got some killer collaborations on deck.
But, to really understand Bieber's new M.O. with this album, perhaps we should take a look at each individual single he's released thus far.
"Where Are U Now"
I think we can all agree that this song is probably the biggest departure from Bieber's previous young, pop-like boyish sounding records. It feels deliberate, too, what with a collaboration with both Diplo and Skrillex and all.
"What Do You Mean?"
One thing's for sure, and that is this dude is all about asking a bunch of rhetorical questions. Theme: lectronica infused with passive aggressiveness? Perhaps. I think it's just clear that Biebs felt like he had a lot to get off his chest with this album, but didn't want to go the Sam Smith route of melancholia.
Again, just like with "What Do You Mean," if you read the lyrics to this song before ever hearing the music, you'd think it was far more downtrodden than it appears to be with the catchy beat.
This Ed Sheeran song feels definitively Ed Sheeran-y. Which, obviously, isn't a bad thing. It's just that it feels much different than the three other aforementioned tunes (though the ones that follow it seem to connect the thread between the EDM songs and the more subdued ballad-types). Funny thing to note about this? While he might've been disguising emotional lyrics with upbeat tunes in the aforementioned songs, he's done the complete opposite with this. He's a trickster, that one.
This Halsey collaboration is all kinds of brilliant. Seriously. This song is the perfect fit for this album with it's dance-y yet sentimental feel, and it marries seemingly unalike melodies like "Where Are U Now" and "Love Yourself" together.
"I'll Show You"
This song is definitely the one on Purpose that I'd vote to be least likely played in a club, so far. But, like the others before it, the beat does throw off the somberness of what Biebs is actually saying, even if just a little bit.
So, what's the overarching theme of Purpose, based on what we've heard? To me, it seems that Biebs has burned and been burned, and he's channeling that hurt, confusion, and frustration into an album of songs with sullen lyrics that have upbeat tunes, or vice versa, in an effort to throw us off his scent, so to speak. And, you know, to keep us jamming as well. If you can't jam to a Biebs song, then it isn't every Biebs-like, is it?