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Justin Bieber - Justice (Album Review)

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 Written by Milly McMahon

Justin Bieber has shapeshifted so often throughout his career that each album he releases can feel like a critique of the artist he was before. On ‘Justice’, the rapid follow up to last year’s ‘Changes’, this fracturing effect feels confusing and self-involved.

Unfortunately, Bieber's sixth album lacks direction, presenting little of substance beyond being a well-oiled money-making pop machine. Introducing the largely downtempo 16 track record, Martin Luther King Jr's voice unfurls: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

King's words, taken from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, are among the most powerful of the American civil rights movement, and entirely relevant today.

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd and ensuing Black Lives Matter protests, sampling these purposeful lines with little meaningful thought or follow through feels staggeringly distasteful.

Instead, Bieber's album discusses his well-documented experiences with substance abuse, his faith, and his wife's love. The album moves forward almost exclusively with incongruous songs documenting domestic bliss. Unstable and Deserve You are weak moments, with Bieber telling us what we have heard so often before: that his wife is his world and he would be lost without her. 

Returning to another of Dr. King’s speeches at the midway point, Bieber again does not attempt to contextualise his words. Instead, he dips into his bag for another happy-go-lucky autotuned pop song—it is hard to imagine what was happening in any writing session or studio meeting when the idea of borrowing so heavily from Dr. King was suggested and accepted as the way forward. 

This is a messy, even cynical, attempt to barge in on an important conversation, with Bieber exhibiting a lack of self-awareness as an artist who has racked up achievements as quickly as he has banked cash. ‘Justice’ is a missed opportunity, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

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