Justin Bieber’s fifth album, Changes, starts promisingly enough, with the bright harp-like plucks of opener All Around Me creating an electronica-fuelled backdrop for his voice. But that sense of clarity only happens once more, on Available.
It’s a rare highlight, where the breathy, detuned chords create a sparse atmosphere that cradles Bieber’s desperate lyrics, “Thinkin’ bout you/It ain’t always about me/Don’t make any sense in you being lonely/Hurry up and get here now.” But the rest of the record gets stale fast.
For one of the world’s biggest music stars, Bieber takes next to no risks on Changes. All the songs have the same tempo and vibe, with unrelenting keyboard chord loops.
The guest features are effective, though. From Travis Scott’s heavily autotuned vocal on Second Emotion, to Kehlani’s delivery on Get Me, and Lil Dicky’s rap on Running Over, they elevate the songs beyond their basic blueprints.
Vocally, the 25-year-old Canadian sounds as clear as ever – his voice velvety throughout, and his falsetto passages swooping elegantly on tracks like Forever.
For an album with a theme of change, Justin seems to be churning out the same ideas again and again.