Justin Bieber released his sixth studio album, “Justice,” March 19. The 16 tracks are reminiscent of the electronic elements in Bieber’s “Purpose” album, making “Justice” nothing short of familiar.
Instead of continuing with the bubblegum and soft pop vocals of his subsequent studio album, “Changes,” Bieber reverts back to the electronic pop sound released in 2015. Bieber’s latest work frequents EDM and pop sounds with few deviations. The production of “Justice” is nostalgic of the upbeat tracks produced in his fourth studio album, “Purpose.” The downfall of “Justice,” however, is the failure to revive the same level of power.
Bieber doesn’t quite reach the glory of his subsequent soft pop-centered albums with this genre but instead exposes his limited range. The struggle to transition is why “Justice” may ultimately fail to garner new fans.
In addition to this current album not living up to Bieber’s past electronic sounds, the tracks within this particular LP are comparable. While Bieber’s team still produces good music, the production is nothing short of predictable and redundant. The lack of growth and range may signify the singer’s career has already peaked.
“Justice” features 10 artists including Khalid, Chance the Rapper, Daniel Caesar and Giveon. Fortunately for the 27-year-old icon, some of their vocals are the redeeming factors in their respective tracks.
“Peaches” is a prime example of this issue. While the song had the potential to be one of the LP’s best tracks, Bieber failed to deliver the appropriate vocals. Daniel Caesar and Giveon maintain the soulful and R&B vibes while Bieber simply sings in the wrong octave. It’s as if KIDZ BOP decided to make its own rendition, led by Bieber.
While Bieber’s soprano octave has sabotaged his attempts at soul, his experiments with lower keys prove successful. “Off My Face” is the album’s anomaly, presenting a pop melody with blues and country undertones. Bieber’s eclectic use of octaves makes the song more euphonious.
Perhaps the most pertinent element to the album’s name is the opening song, “2 Much.” The track starts off with a Dr. Martin Luther King quote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The quote, while powerful, is irrelevant to the love ballad that proceeds it.
Additionally, track seven, “MLK Interlude,” features nearly two minutes of one of King’s sermons delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1967. Here, King is explaining the importance of rising above fear and standing up for justice. Critics have called this interlude performative. While the sample is irrelevant to the LP’s overall theme, it allows listeners a chance to hear a message that’s central to the times.
King’s daughter, Bernice King, took to Twitter to thank Bieber for his philanthropic support of the King Center and its BeLove Campaign, though she didn’t comment on Bieber’s use of her father’s audio.
The lyrics are the sole progressive element of this album. “Justice” has two main themes, one of which is a deepened appreciation for a loyal love interest, which is likely his wife, Hailey.
The other theme is Bieber’s struggle to fight through the past and move forward in his life. The lyrics on songs like “Unstable” and “Holy” portray Bieber’s transition. He seems to be stuck in a sort of purgatory in his personal life, and it reflects in his inability to bring innovation to his music.
The album concludes with “Lonely,” the second single released. Despite the messages of love and support, redemption and hope, this final track leaves a somber, less optimistic sentiment. It’s as if despite loving Hailey and being grateful for her support, Bieber still has a void he’s struggling to fill. Ending on “Lonely” sends the message that at the end of the day, love isn’t a Band-Aid and Bieber has to learn to find his own way.
Ultimately, loyal fans who appreciate watching Bieber’s journey will enjoy his candidness and transparency while dancing throughout most of the album.
Target’s exclusive edition includes “Angels Speak” featuring Poo Bear — a hidden gem. Walmart’s exclusive edition includes “Hailey.” “Justice” is available to stream on Apple Music and most other major streaming services.