Justin Bieber’s Believe: The Reviews Are In!

by (@zaragolden)

BelieveJustin Bieber‘s second full-length album, which is out today on Island Records— is a bid bid by a teen star aiming for continued relevance. Will the kids still love him? Can the adults love him, too? Will this be an acceptable substitute for another Justin Timberlake album that will probably never arrive? The critics, all too old to be count themselves as Beliebers, are split:

THE GOOD
“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. It’s the rare album that tries to be everything to everyone and largely succeeds.” – Kyle Anderson’s B+ review for Entertainment Weekly

“I let down my hair…and got in touch with my inner tween. And then a funny thing happened: I kind of fell in love. Which is pretty much the point of the whole album.” — Melissa Locker’s review for Time

“Bieber seems to be staking a place in pop history. There’s the Timberlake nod of ‘Hey Senorita’ on ‘Take You,’ a Prince homage (“We all party like it’s 3012 tonight”) plus a shout-out to Beyoncé’s beginnings with the words: ‘You can be my Destiny’s Child’. The blissfully descending melisma of a five-syllabled ‘die’ in ‘Die in Your Arms’ sounds like a forgotten Jackson 5 gem. In fact, the track samples Michael Jackson’s ‘We’ve Got a Good Thing Going’ and bonus track ‘Maria’ is another MJ-esque treat – a paternity-protesting song to file right next to ‘Billie Jean.’” — Hermione Hoby’s 4-star review for The Observer


THE SO-SO’S
“Overall, Believe sinks its tendrils into the listener’s brain by riding the dance music phenomenon and offering some whizz-bang production alongside Bieber’s sticky-sweet singing voice. The lyrics are unfussy and at times too complacent in their rhymes, but the music powers the weaker moments through unnoticed. This is a pop record, and even if the flashes of poetic brilliance aren’t there, the hooks very much are.” — Jason Lipshutz’s review for Billboard

“He should forget about R&B stud: Panting come-ons like All Around the World and Right Here ring false, no matter how much the producers surround him with all-star rappers and baste his voice in electronic effect … He seems more comfortable as a writer and singer of gentler love songs like ‘Catching Feelings, Fall’ and ‘Be Alright’.” — Jason Shriver for USA Today

THE NOT SO GOOD’S
“Bieber doesn’t have the soulful vocal snaps of a Justin Timberlake or the shock-and-awe charisma of a Britney Spears. His gently sparkling persona can get overwhelmed by all the sonic gear-switching, technological tomfoolery and sweaty come-ons; it can all feel a bit rushed.” — Jon Dolan’s 3-star review for Rolling Stone

Believe, on the other hand, isn’t the album where Justin Bieber grows up any more than The Vow is the movie where Channing Tatum really acts … Love remains magical, sweet, and rather chaste on Believe, without any of the heat or complication of the real thing, the kinds of things you get from Timberlake, to say nothing of Prince.” — Michaelangelo Matos’ review for Capital New York

If Bieber’s sound has always been robotic — to the point where it obscures the very fluidity and prettiness of the voice it means to enhance — this time his producers leaned even deeper into that fault. It sounds like they employed more machinery than it would take to launch a mission to the moon. Of course, this does serve to soften the blow of Bieber’s lowered voice. The extra blast of auto-tuning feminizes him and his doughy inflections soften things even more.” — Jim Farber’s 2-star review for NYDN

And you, what do you think?

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