Pop singer Justin Bieber returns with his sixth studio album, Justice, via Def Jam Recordings. Bieber opens up the album paying tribute to his wife on "2 Much". The song features production by Skrillex and is an excellent start to the album. I can admit that I found his choice to open sample the Civil Rights Icon a bit questionable. The correlation he was going for did not personally connect for me, and perhaps quoting Lord Bryon or Pablo Neuarda may have worked better.
The mid-tempo pop ballad "Deserve You" from producers Andrew Watt and Louis Bell is up next. Now with this one, I get where Bieber was going, and the hook on the song is ready-made for the background scene of a romantic comedy. Khalid assists on the radio-friendly "As I Am" and offers nothing we have not heard the singers do vocally in the past.
Before moving into the lead single, "Holy," Bieber provides the acoustic flavored "Off My Face," which I enjoyed. Featuring Chance the Rapper, it is another song about the singer's wife and his love of GOD. Some other reviewers have called the music devotional R&B however, I do not know if I would go that far. I think back on what the DeBarge family and the elements known as Earth, Wind & Fire were doing in their combination of R&B and gospel. However, in the age of the Pandemic, I can understand the positive response to the song.
The filler song "Unstable feat. The Kid LAROI" follows before Bieber uses MLK on an interlude. Bieber then unsuccessfully moves into an attempt at the eighties pop sound with "Die for You," which did not work for me as an album cut. However, I could see the song in a Broadway musical. "Hold On," "Somebody," "Ghost," and "Loved by You" are not much better. Bieber's vocal ability has never been a question; I think the problem is the mundane material.
Case in point, the songs "Lonely" and "Peaches" (featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon) both have an explicit tag to them. While I do not want to come off as judgmental, the songs for me did not gel with the album's vibe of love and positivity. Before releasing the album, Bieber's management team tried out a new multi-single release strategy of releasing multiple songs that would transpire to a new album. The process is not new, and given Bieber's celebrity, I do not know why they took this route.
After attempting to flirt with trap and electro- R&B on last year's Changes, the Biebs makes an unsuccessful return to his pop roots. I will give Justin credit for his attempt at sampling Martin Luther King Jr., even if the execution is questionable. Furthermore, while I never considered myself a Justin Bieber fan, he does have songs I like. Mainly "Catching Feelings" and "Right Here" from his Believe album. While he is vocally talented, Justice goes unserved to those outside his core base with his latest release.
Top Songs: "2 Much", "Deserve You" and "Off My Face".
Final Grade D+