Justin Bieber: Changes review | Alexis Petridis's album of the week squib

(RBMG/Def Jam)
He’s still one of the world’s biggest pop stars, but this subdued, fitfully lovely album suggests Bieber no longer wants chart domination

Connoisseurs of documentaries that reveal the full horror of becoming famous – particularly at a young age – are currently spoilt for choice. Over on Netflix, there’s Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana, a film that makes 21st-century celebrity look like something you’d mete out as a last-ditch punishment: a lonely, exhausting world of constant scrutiny, unending bullshit and dealings with people ostensibly on your side whose commitment to your best interests looks shaky to say the least. Meanwhile, on YouTube, there’s Justin Bieber’s Seasons.

The latter isn’t intended as a cautionary tale. Quite the opposite. It’s a 10-part puff piece, the ruthlessly clear-eyed, non-partisan tone of which can be gleaned from the titles of its episodes: Making Magic, Bieber’s Back. It’s designed to assure all and sundry that its star is recovered from mental and physical illness, and years of drug use that apparently began when he was 13. But an ineffable unease oozes from the screen. If Bieber appears better than he was during the tour for his 2015 album Purpose – during the London shows, he stood miserably on stage, unable to muster the enthusiasm even to mime to a backing track – he still seems fragile and troubled, talking with his head in his hands about the effort it takes him to get out of bed in the morning, explaining how the oxygen chamber he keeps in the studio “decreases anxiety”. “Being human,” he says at one point, “is challenging”.

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