After taking some time to, as he put it in a 2013 email to USA Today, “find my sound as an adult”, Justin Bieber reemerged in 2015 with Purpose, a collection as notable for the way his now-matured voice nestled into the spare, giddy beats of tropical house as it was for the spiritual searching outlined in its lyrics. Introduced by the pulsing “What Do You Mean?”, which frames his silky croon within synth flutes and keyboard stabs, Purpose depicts Bieber on a quest not merely for the next generation of his sound but for a sense of what is most important in life. Purpose, which includes writing and producing credits from a slew of 2010s heavy hitters like EDM wizard Skrillex, electro-pop architect BloodPop, hit machine Benny Blanco and busker-turned-arena-headliner Ed Sheeran, hit chart gold with “What Do You Mean?” as well as the soaring “Sorry”, a loping synth-pop track that contrasts Bieber’s frustrated crooning against heaven-sent, looped cries. “Love Yourself”, a rancorous cut that updates the guy-and-guitar setup Bieber had in his online-sensation days, was another smash, showing how he could hark back musically to his youth while singing about grownup relationship complexities. There are also moments when Bieber turns inward, indicating what’s been going on in his head during his meteoric rise to pop’s upper echelons. “Children” is a club-ready call to “make a difference”, the singer calling on his listeners to “be a visionary for a change” amid crisp synths and an urgent beat; the title track is a piano-accompanied prayer, Bieber asking for forgiveness and, at the song’s end, delivering a short, heartfelt speech in which he tells the Lord that he’s “giving it all I’ve got”. After breaking through in the late 2000s, Justin Bieber had to navigate the path to adulthood with a spotlight shining brightly on his every move; Purpose shows how he did that with assistance from his pop peers and his faith.

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