Much was made about this 2020 album marking Justin Bieber's true return to music after the 2015 release of Purpose. The singer brought more attention to the matter when he announced during the interim that he'd be taking a break, yet his high commercial standing remained between LPs -- a period of four years and three months, not exactly the five years cited in headlines -- as a featured artist on Top Ten hits by Luis Fonsi, DJ Khaled, David Guetta, Ed Sheeran, and Dan + Shay. Changes bares only a faint indication that it was made under the kind of commercial pressure applied to a "delayed follow-up." In terms of style, song structure, and lyricism, it's easily Bieber's most focused album, all percolating R&B-pop and sparser guitar ballads that articulate the newlywed's feelings of attraction, affection, and devotion. There's a key moment when Bieber works through some personal struggles (to which anyone can relate), but the singer otherwise is troubled by little more than occasional geographic distance and consequential impatience, content to embrace companionship and the prospect of spending the rest of his life with his partner. A sweet, awkward charm continues to run throughout the singer's work. He invites his lover to "get it in expeditiously," flatters her at the concession stand with "Movies all around, but you look like the feature," and elsewhere beams "Shout-out to your mom and dad for making you/Standin' ovation, they did a great job raising you." He tends to keep it so clean and nonspecific -- his co-writers, along with co-stars such as Quavo, Travis Scott, and Post Malone, are all compliant as ever -- that he could have sung most of these songs a decade earlier. While Bieber's voice still sounds like that of a mid- to late-teen, singing seems to come more naturally to him, and his falsetto pleas are neither bitter nor entitled, strictly genuine and adult.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman