Review Round Up: Changes by Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber is back with a brand new album – but what have critics had to say about it?

Pitchfork: “His fifth studio album is pitched as an invitation to bask in Bieber’s newfound domestic bliss, but while his contentment might be heaven for him and his managers, the resulting album has all the glow and eroticism of an airport terminal.”

Rolling Stone: ** “Pop superstar’s first album in five years is sweet and tender, but ultimately shallow.”

The Observer: *** “There are welcome changes of pace – the rib-rattling Forever featuring Post Malone a highlight – but the tempo drops again for a suite of acoustic sketches that touch on God (the title track), patience (Confirmation) and, on ETA, the joys of online surveillance (“Drop me a pin so I can know your location”). It’s a subdued end to an album that feels like a purely selfish endeavour on Bieber’s part.”

The Guardian: *** “It just feels subdued and unassuming, which are curious things for mainstream pop to be. It’s a tentative, rather than all-guns-blazing, return, with a by-any-means-necessary bubblegum single dutifully tacked on to throw his record label a bone.”

Variety: “What’s missing is joy, an uptempo song (or two) that screams, “Yeah!” (to quote the title of the biggest hit by Bieber’s former mentor, Usher Raymond). Bieber has learned to respect the power of love, but he seems too earnest and reverential to sit back and truly enjoy it. Just when you’re thinking, OK, we get it. Now, c’mon, get happy, it’s all over.” “Changes fails to relieve this listener’s distress that as someone who surely, hopefully, has the practical means to escape, Bieber feels too beaten down to cut the strings and say—to reference another cluster of unthreatening-boy-star casualties—bye, bye, bye.”

Slant Magazine: *** “Although the tonal fluidity of Changes errs, from time to time, toward homogeneity, there’s a weightlessness to it that seems to signify the slipping of a long-held burden from Bieber’s shoulders.”

The Independent: ** “For all Bieber’s talk of change, this album, the way he talks about love – and the fact he feels compelled to make not one, but five jokes about male genitalia at the playback – suggest he hasn’t come all that far since the days of “baby, baby, baby, oh”.”

NME: ** “Bieber’s limp comeback results in a collection of loved-up songs lacking innovation or substance.”

Evening Standard: *** “In fact, so single-minded is his approach this time that it feels like she’s his only intended audience. The arena crowds on his summer tour of North America are going to be underwhelmed by the unchanging, lounging pace of the new material, gently ticking beats and lack of memorable choruses.”

The Metro: *** 1/2 “The pop-led songs offer no real substance to Changes save for an easy listen on a challenging day. But it’s the more earnest numbers that are clearly written from gained life experience over the past few years, and offer confidence that Justin still well and truly has his purpose in music.”

Changes is available to buy and download now.

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