“Tired of myself making the same mistakes, made me re-evaluate the way I live.” ~ Justin Bieber
Bold claims from a man who can’t seem to make any good music after 13 years.
The unfortunate problems with “Justice” is a problem that mainstream pop has been having problems with for years. This saddening problem is that mainstream pop doesn’t really have much to vary with their music style, production, subject matter, etc. Fast forward to present day, you can see many popular artists starting to pave their own path and creating something unique. These artists include Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa, you know, the people who would usually dominate the top 100. These are Justin’s contemporaries, but what keeps Justin behind is his lack of, dare I say, passion and care for his music to the point where he is always 100 steps behind his competition.
Now I do want to preface this review with a few things. I think “Justice” is a great step up for Justin. On the contrary to my opener, there are a few songs I truly enjoy on this album, which besides his past albums like “Purpose” or “Journals”, I couldn’t say the same. Coming off of “Changes” this is definitely an improvement, and that’s something I can appreciate and won’t take for granted. I also want to say that despite a lot of other people, I don’t have a personal bias and/or vendetta out for Justin. I will proudly admit I used to enjoy his music when I was younger. So no, my low scores and “hatred” for this album is not because of his character, it’s because it’s truly my opinion on the album’s quality. I want Justin to make good music! I’m rooting for him. But it’s hard to root for a person who makes the same errors over and over again. Now with that, onto the review.
As I said before, comparatively to his past albums, this is probably one of his best out of his discography, if that’s worth anything. But he does repeat some of the same mistakes. I do believe the production is far better than the basic cookie-cutter instrumentals of last year’s “Changes” but that doesn’t explain how skeletal the production is here. Not like I was expecting much but Bieber has shown he can get great production on his albums, and actually sound great on the songs too, big example being 2015’s “Purpose” which is by far his best album to date. If the production isn’t stale, the production seems like it's trying too hard to be something but is struggling to get there (basically it is having an identity crisis). A lot of the music on this album is easily replaceable, and cutting off any of the tracks off this album, you’d still get the same experience.
The vocal performances on this album have a lot of similar negative points that the production initially has. Justin’s voice is technically proficient, but there’s always this dullness and/or monotonous feeling I got from his voice, and this vocal style he’s been utilizing for a whole decade now, not really trying to breach out of his range striving for something more, but always sticking to what made him popular in the first place. He clearly has a good voice and talent, but him using the same style for years on end, keeps making his music predictable.
Now with another aspect that Justin clearly can’t deliver on and truly never has been able to is the lyricism. His subject matter has remained the same for a decade, and I would defend that point as it’s a pretty common theme. Relationships, a great driving force. It’s a theme that artists have been using for years, that’s not the problem. It’s the constant corniness, unimaginative, predictable lyrics that he’s been recycling for a long time. You can truthfully just look at the track names and see what I’m talking about instantly.. ‘Loved By You’, ‘Lonely’, ‘Somebody’, ‘Die For You’, and ‘Deserve You’ are all clear backings to my claim. It just shows this lack of creativity, and that’s just the track names not even the depth of the songs. I won’t detail specific lyrics but some of them are just laughably bad… “I get my weed from California (that’s that shit)”. I’ll state this again about myself that I don’t look too deep into lyricism but when it’s so bad that I can’t help but cringe when listening to it, it really hurts the quality of the experience.
Usually if you’re a featured artist on Justin Bieber’s album, you could easily carry the track as long as you try just a bit… but with this album I felt Justin did step it up a bit and was on par with his features, but with everything I’ve mentioned so far that’s not too big of a compliment as the features underperformed. Looking at the tracklist before release, I was only excited for one feature and the rest seemed like they would disappoint, and they did. Khalid’s performance was very predictable for me as he has one of the most mundane vocals I’ve ever heard. The Kid LAROI did his thing I guess, it wasn’t anything special but he wasn’t irritating as he usually is so that’s something to acknowledge. Dominic Fike personally was my favorite feature as “Die For You” was a phenomenal track to me. They seemed to have the best chemistry out of all the features, and Justin honestly surprised me with his vocal performance here. The BEAM feature was just bad, and I won’t say anything more about that. The Daniel Caesar + Giveon feature was plotted out as well as I thought it would, where Justin is the worst part of the track and then 2 would carry the track. It’s a wavy, vibey track, but I felt could’ve been better. The features on this album weren’t bad (except for BEAM) so I guess I can give a few points, but they don’t add enough (besides Dominic Fike) to really make me feel intrigued.
Now with that, those are quite honestly my only gripes about the album, sure they’re major components to an album but it’s not like he completely botched the album cause there are things I like. Songs like “Die For You” and “Lonely” I would genuinely come back to in later time. Seeing that there are actual good songs off this album leads me to believe that Justin has potential, he just needs to follow these steps.
1. Take 1.5-2 years to drop an album. Really spend time on the album because a lot of the songs off here seem rushed and makes the album bloated.
2. Spend more time on your lyrics. Add depth, story, emotion, meaning, just SOMETHING to make it more interesting and have a listener WANT to look at the lyrics!
3. Your vocals are great, you have good technical abilities but you need to find some versatility because you end up sounding the same in every track. This one is relatively easy as you’ve done it on certain occasions and done it well.
4. Pave your own path. No matter how much you follow the first 3 steps, your music will always sound derivative to other albums in the same genre.
“Justice” isn’t bad by any means, but overall isn’t good either. From the hollow lyricism, monotonous production, uninspired vocals to the mediocre featured artists, you don’t get much of a great after-product. I truly think Justin has the talent and ability to make something feasible as there’s proof with some tracks on this album to even his past work, but he seemingly isn’t taking the steps and putting forth effort to get to that. It’s sad because this was a person who I thought made great music in the past, and I want to believe that now. Justin, if you ever read this which I know you won’t but, take some time off and really rethink your music process because if this proceeds, your music will never be reputable as great even with your lengthy career. Good luck.
Favorite Tracks: Deserve You, Holy, Die For You, Hold On, Peaches, Lonely
Least Favorite Track: Love You Different