Release Date: Jun 19, 2012
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Pop, Vocal, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Teen Pop
The rise of Justin Bieber was such a blinding explosion of hair and smiles and YouTube cuteness that it was easy to miss his music's ironic achievement: its light touch. His first two releases – the 2009 EP My World and 2010's full-length My World 2.0 – were snuggle-fresh and butterfly-light, luxuriating in R&B bubblegum and first-blush puppy lust. At a time when 12-year-olds can get porn on their iPod Touches, the Biebs made flirty innocence thrive.But Justin's 18 now, legal and, according to Believe, fully lethal.
Adecade ago, when Justin Bieber was eight and anonymous and YouTube didn't even exist yet, another Justin was having an important moment. 2002 was the year former boyband member J Timberlake put out the sizzling Like I Love You, thereby giving grown-ups licence to like him. Justin Bieber, quondam, pudding-bowled moppet responsible for untold pre-teen screams the world over, might have just done the same with Believe, specifically its Timberlake-aping single, Boyfriend.
If you subtract the remixes, acoustic versions, live takes, and holiday material that filled Justin Bieber's releases from 2009-2011, Believe falls only a few tracks shy of doubling the singer's quantity of original songs. That fact alone will satisfy a large portion of his fans. More notably, Believe finds Bieber co-writing all but one song and handling his "not a boy, not quite a man" status with poise, despite some considerable contrast between his age and what he has been through.
As a star birthed by YouTube and raised by Twitter, Justin Bieber has never had the luxury of growing up outside the public eye. In the two years between his breakout 2010 LP, My World 2.0, and Believe, his second proper full-length, Bieber has had to go through cultural puberty and actual puberty — a tough gauntlet by any measure. Luckily, his instincts (or at least the instincts of the small republic of people employed ? to steer the USS Bieber) are strong, and Believe works surprisingly well as a ¬reinvention and a reintroduction.
Justin Bieber's sophomore album, a considered mix of on-trend dance pop and relaxed mid-tempo beats and ballads, nudges the 18-year-old oh so carefully closer to an inevitable period of full-blown crotch-grabbing. A melismatic R&B singer trapped in the body of a teenypopper, Bieber sounds most convincing when his fluttery timbre is given room to breathe. Highlights include the pensive One Love, the yodelling falsetto chorus in Thought Of You, the vaguely menacing come-on Boyfriend and the MJ-sampling summer jam Die In Your Arms.
If you’ve ever been to a state or county fair, you recognize that moment at dusk when the parents leave the midway and sunlit forum for family fun turns into a loud, clanging, palpably aggressive Shangri-La for tweens taking their new freedoms out for a test drive among sullen carnies just shaking off their daytime hangovers. It’s a little like society held up to one of those warped funhouse mirrors, with capricious adolescents knowingly taking advantage of the gnarly adults who have to kowtow to them in exchange for those pink paper tickets. (Or, if you prefer, it’s Karen Klein’s recent bus ride-cum-viral video, only overcome by the scent of cotton candy and hot dog puke.
Bieber’s new collection, marking his growth to adulthood, exceeds all expectations. Natalie Shaw 2012 Marking his progression from screaming-kids-in-tow starlet to something close to a pop god, Justin Bieber’s new album not only finds him becoming an artist for adults on his own terms, but showcasing impressively distinctive tones and translating an innate charisma across many styles. Believe is glitzier than his debut, My World(s), but Bieber doesn’t leave his faithful audience behind in pursuit of a broader fanbase.