As a matter of fact, he does so very well. There is only a small whiff of Belieber-appealing music here. The musicality of the album is very grown up. Take for example, the incredible disco track “Roller Coaster”, with it’s throbbing bassline and funky vibes. The songwriting is considerably more mature also, such as his duet with everybody’s favourite pedophile, R Kelly on “PYD”. It stands for “Put You Down” and is very much an adult song. Take lyrics like “from the door to the wall/coffee table, girl, get ready/I’mma put you down”, it’s very obvious what’s implied.
“Recovery” is another banger, which seems to, intentionally or not, take influence from UK garage. From the melody and tempo, to the acoustic guitar on the beat it wouldn’t feel wrong to be credited as a Craig David track. Bieber even shows a darker side, such as on the outro of “Heartbreaker”, which is strangely eerie.
He’s still trying to appeal to the hip-hop crowd, to varying degrees of success. His track with Chance The Rapper, “Confident” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Justin Timberlake album and has the pair discussing how they’re transfixed with the most confident girl in the room, with a typically hyper Chance verse, laden with his screeching adlibs. The Lil Wayne assisted “Backpack” is just bizzare. Bieber discusses falling in love with an alien girl and wanting to keep her in his backpack (?!) and Wayne just admits he escaped Area 51.
Bieber also has a track with the autotuned monster Future, which has the pair singing back and forth. Unfortunately they have zero chemistry and Future is horrible. Also, “What’s Hatnin” (Southern slang for “What’s Happening”) is a stupid name for a song from a Canadian.
With Journals Bieber has come some length to prove he is a serious artist. However, it’s going to be seriously overlooked just because it’s him. If this album was released by Justin Timberlake, everyone would be heralding it as fucking amazing. Only time will tell if JB will or can shed the terrible image he has. But he’s making the right steps musically of doing so.
Highlights: Roller Coaster – Confident (ft. Chance The Rapper) – Recovery