Music Critics ‘Believe’ in Justin Bieber’s New Album (But Say Hold the Nicki, Please)
"Justin's 18 now, legal and, according to Believe, fully lethal," says Rolling Stone in a mostly positive three-star review. "'Swag, swag, swag on you/Chillin' by the fire while we're eating fondue,' he sings on the sinewy electro-pop single 'Boyfriend,' easing the transition from pup to playa in one of the year's more awesome lyrics. On Believe, Biebs' voice has deepened (physically and digitally), the beats are more driving and libidinous, the sonic settings more intense and wide-ranging."
Rolling Stone particularly liked the track "Right Here," where Bieber and guest star Drake "go low-talking Lothario to low-talking Lothario. It's cosmopolitan pop sophistication, designed to make this the Bieber album 18-and-over folks can like without feeling like they're joining NAMBLA."
But can Bieber really deliver for a growing adult audience without alienating the kids his stardom is built on? Is it possible to be sexy enough for young moms and sexless enough for their tween daughters?
The Washington Times says Bieber "straddles the line between boyhood and adulthood like a pro, courting an older audience without completely abandoning the schoolgirls who sustained him in the early days." Comparing him to that other Justin, the paper adds that "Timberlake was willing to play up his sex appeal, though, while the Beibs keeps things PG, crooning about puppy love without a hint of carnality."
Hitfix thinks Believe merits an even more family-friendly rating, saying "the album is G-rated from start to finish, without ever seeming Disney-fied."
But if there are intimations of a more mature sexuality or ribaldry on the album, these are largely the result of having so many hip-hop guest stars on the eollection, the critics suggest.