Review: Justin Bieber’s ‘Changes’ drops in quality

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Courtesy of RBMG/Def Jam

TRL's Riley O'Donnell said compared to previous album "Purpose," Justin Bieber's new record "Changes" falls short of his capabilities.

After a five year hiatus from music outside of a few features, the pop icon Justin Bieber is finally back with his fifth full-length album, “Changes.” Bieber has certainly evolved his sound quite a bit over his last few projects, but unfortunately, the new sounds on this album come off flat and lazy, and the project is an overall drop in quality from his 2015 album “Purpose. 

The best way to describe “Changesas a whole would simply be “boring.” Over the hour-plus long record, there are hardly any memorable moments at all. The production on most of Changes” is reminiscent of low-key Soundcloud trap beats and creates a sleepy, unexciting atmosphere when put together with Bieber’s vocals. This isn’t to knock on all trap beats, but on this album, they are far too overproduced and muted. One would think that an artist as large as Bieber could get world-class production, yet this record certainly does not deliver that level of quality.

It should be mentioned that Bieber’s vocals on this album sound clean and well-polished, especially compared to the subpar beats he sings over. Even though he does seem to limit his vocal range on most tracks, his voice stays consistently solid, as it has throughout most of his career.

This positive comes with a pretty large caveat; the actual lyrics he sings are often lifeless and corny. The lyrics of most songs on this project seem like they could not have been thought about for more than 10 minutes. Every track more or less covers the exact same subject matter–how much Bieber loves his wife (in the most superficial ways imaginable) and how much he wants her to clear her schedule and hang out with him. To be honest, tracks like “Available” and “E.T.A.” come off as way more sad and desperate than romantic. It’s almost like the lyrics were written by someone who has seen relationships on television and has an idea of what they are like, but hasn’t actually experienced a meaningful one. This isn’t to minimize Justin’s relationship with his wife, Hailey Bieber, in any way. They seem to have a sweet relationship, but whoever is helping Justin write his feelings out in songs is not doing him any services.

The more introspective tracks on the album, such as “That’s What Love Is” and “At Least For Now,” are definitely bright spots on the album, thanks to Bieber having a wider vocal range and being more thoughtful about his relationship. Bieber might have a decent album here if he cut out a few annoying and boring songs on the front half and replaced them with songs like the last four. 

The features on this record are incredibly frustrating. When the tracklist first came out, I was excited to see names like Travis Scott, Kehlani and even Post Malone. Unfortunately, other features on “Changes” include artists Lucky, Quavo and Lil Dicky. To be straightforward, the Lil Dicky feature on the song “Running Over” is probably the worst feature I’ve heard yet this year. It’s eye rolling, cringeworthy, and honestly a little bit creepy. The Quavo verse on “Intentions” is noticeably low-effort, similar to most of Migos’ work as of late. The Travis Scott and Kehlani features are fine, but they are a bit underwhelming and not nearly enough to save the songs they appear on. 

Overall, this album was pretty disappointing for Justin. “Purposewas a very solid album with memorable hit after memorable hit and decent deep tracks, but “Changes” takes everything good about that record and throws it out the window. Bieber has the potential to make a good album, but if his songwriting and production don’t get overhauled, we may not see it in the near future.

Rating: D