Nothing frames a pop album quite like a redemption narrative, and for Justin Bieber this is his second in a row. While 2015’s Purpose, preceded by problems with the police and a much publicised breakup, was full of culture-shifting hits, from the pleading Sorry to the bitter Love Yourself, Changes – created in the midst of health issues and a hasty marriage to model Hailey Baldwin – finds Bieber swapping instant anthems for mid-tempo, trap-adjacent R&B often rendered frictionless by bedroom-centred wedded bliss. So on the tactile Available he coos: “Say I’m number one on your to-do list,” while Come Around Me’s “Do me like you miss me” hook swims around a modern approximation of 90s new jack swing.
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. After years of people-pleasing, perhaps that’s its biggest success.