It’s obvious on first listen why Justin Bieber’s fifth album is arriving on February 14. From the red sleeve to the heart-eyed lyrics throughout, if these 16 songs were any more loved up they would form part of the M&S Valentine’s Day Dine In meal deal. Bieber, 25, married model Hailey Baldwin in 2018. He needs her all around him, wouldn’t wanna be in any other place, etc. “When I create, you’re my muse,” he sings on the blippy single Intentions – Erato, at a guess, though with all those lyrics to write he can struggle with metaphors.
Baldwin is compared to a business product (“Heart full of equity, you’re an asset”), a phone (“Imma be the one to charge you up”), a wreckless driver (“Keep running me over with your loving”), a horse (“Ain’t in no stable”) and high street pharmacist Boots (“Like a chemist how you’re finishing my sentences”).
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 production, mostly from Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, is smooth, pretty and tasteful. The weighty bass and cut-up voices of Take It Out On Me are intriguing, but otherwise he rarely does much to leap out from behind Bieber’s crooning.
A handful of acoustic tracks near the end seal the deal: happily married Bieber is boring.