Canada

5 things to know about Changes by Justin Bieber

Changes

Justin Bieber | RBMG/Def Jam Recordings/Universal Music Canada

Justin Bieber is back.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since Purpose was released. Tracks such as What do You Mean?, Company, Sorry and Love Yourself are still in such heavy rotation on radio and digital formats that it’s hard to go a week without hearing one of those hits somewhere.

But, yes, album number five is here, and it’s one of the new decade’s most-anticipated releases.

It arrives when the singer’s YouTube Originals docuseries, Justin Bieber: Season, is the No. 1 artist channel on the viewing platform. His Spotify account surpasses 62 million monthly listeners, making him the streaming service’s  No. 1 worldwide artist. And his Changes tour kicks off on May 14 with special guests Kehlani and Jaden Smith.

Tickets are on sale now at justinbiebermusic.com.

The album’s two leadoff singles — Intentions (feat. Quavo) and Yummy — were both global smashes as well. At 25, Bieber is no longer the breakout child star or the tempestuous teen troublemaker. He is an adult, married and moving into the next phase of a career that has probably already paid out enough to keep him in new hair dye jobs and tattoos for life.

But how has the maturity made the music? Here are five things to know about Changes.

1: All Around Me. Never thought I could ever by loyal/To someone other then myself/Never thought I could ever be a spoiler/Guess anything is possible since you made my heart melt/Gave me the best hand that I’ve ever been dealt. Yes, he’s in love and he’s proclaiming it from the opening song on through the other 16 tracks and the Summer Walker remix of Yummy that closes the record out. Instead of the moody self-doubt of Purpose, he is coming across bright eyed and doting.

2: Trap-heavy R&B. The album is loaded with slinky fluid sonics married to sparse trap beats and Bieber’s manipulated falsetto moaning over top (Come Around Me, Available, Running Over, Yummy). The effect of having all the material coming at you in pretty much the same pace and production package is that a lot of the songs sound the same. That was doubtfully the idea behind the track sequencing. But it really just makes the better songs leap out — Forever with Post Malone and Clever is a true standout — and much of the rest of the record sound like filler.

3: Take It Out On Me. I’ll be your punching bag/Hit me with all of your might. Much has been written in celeb pages about how Bieber has changed and become more sensitive and spiritual. This song’s confessional lyric plays to that argument with some delightfully crunchy keyboard backing and blank pauses. But he still manages to mention that he is his lover’s psychiatrist as well as their miracle. Humble as ever, it appears.

4: Second Emotion. Probably the best song on the album for phrasing, this funkier number features Travis Scott mumbling for a moment. It’s a veritable combat between the two vocalists to determine who can get the most wicked mechanized vocal treatments in the track. Scott wins, as at one point, he sounds like an drunken robot trying tripping over its digital tongue trying to finish a sentence.

5: E.T.A. and Changes. Every JB album needs one smooth ballad, and these two are pretty much it for Changes. With a very jazzy guitar part and almost invisible bass beat, E.T.A. is the slow dance number that fans will be flocking to. It’s going to be a showstopper live too, no doubt. Great line: Drop a pint to me now/So I can know your location.

Also out this week:

Abel Collective

Greetings From Stanley Park EP | abelcollective.bandcamp.com

This local band fronted by singer Thorsten Abel delivers four tracks of fuzzy, psychedelic pop that falls nicely somewhere in between the Velvet Underground and Dream Syndicate with a solid serving of Brit Pop arena punch tossed in. Bores of Asstown is one of the better song titles around, but the album’s real clencher is the lengthy Made to Measure Mae West.

Abel Collective EEP release party, Feb. 28, 9 p.m. Pat’s Pub, 403 E. Hastings.

Puss N Boots

Sister | Universal Music Canada

Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper are Puss N Boots and the trio sounds like it’s having a lot of fun on this 14 track record. From the group-penned Western surf instrumental Jamola that opens the album to the various originals penned by individual members, the music is roots rock with an easygoing vibe that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in Laurel Canyon back in the day. The high lonesome harmonizing is particularly good on Popper’s Lucky. The covers range from a so-so cover of Concrete Blonde’s Joey to an excellent version of Tom Petty’s Angel Dream.

Tame Impala

The Slow Rush | Universal Music Canada

Kevin Parker’s psychedelic project has become one of the most influential groups in the exploding Australian music scene and its fourth album will only continue to cement that reputation. Loaded with seventies influences ranging from the Bee Gees-esque vocals in Instant Destiny to the funky disco keyboard vamp in Breathe Deeper, every track is packed with punchy hooks, reverberant chiming vocals and an incredible amount of wacky backgrounds. Nowhere is this heard better than on Lost In Yesterday.

Tame Impala plays Aug. 5, 8 p.m. at Rogers Arena. Tickets and info: From $77.80 at ticketmaster.ca

Thundercat

Is What It Is | Brainfeeder 

Black Quails is one of the sweetest soul songs to drop anywhere in ages. Featuring Thundercat, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington and Childish Gambino, the song sounds like the Impressions put through a P-Funk blender with some final tweaks courtesy of a Vegas lounge pianist. It totally works. Just like the near-cheese of Overseas (feat. Zack Fox), which is a slice of Marvin Gaye style disco with general silliness. The organic and in-the-pocket playing throughout is a textbook for up-and-coming funkateers to study. There is a lot more to mine in the Afro-futurist sounds coming out of the Brainfeeder stable.

Thundercat plays Feb. 28, 8 p.m. Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville. Tickets and info: Sold Out

sderdeyn@postmedia.com

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