Quick Spins: Reviews of albums by Justin Bieber, Clipse and Animal Collective

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Justin Bieber


Fifteen-year-old Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber is a record exec's dream. He looks like Zac Efron, sings like Justin Timberlake before his voice changed, and has the same chaste, non-threateningly romantic appeal of a "Twilight" film, where eternal love is promised, but nothing gets too steamy.

A YouTube sensation turned real-world star, Bieber just released a smash debut, "My World," that's not only critic-proof, it's logic-proof. It's syrupy and synthetic and excessively adorable, the sort of disc Bieber patron Usher might have made if he'd been a member of an early-'90s boy band and had never heard of sex.

There are modest club tracks ("One Time," crafted by the "Umbrella" production team; "Love Me," which borrows from the Cardigans' "Lovefool") and yearning ballads ("First Dance"), but not too much of anything else: The seven-song "My World" is really an extended EP ("Part 2" is scheduled for release next spring).

"My World" was created with pre-sexualized tweens in mind, and most of its tracks are about how Justin just wants to kiss you at the prom, girl. And maybe spend Valentine's Day with you, but only if that's okay. It's a laudable goal, overdone: Even for a 15-year-old, "My World" is hopelessly milquetoasty.

It's near impossible to tell just how gifted Bieber is, or just how much he contributed to his own record. That he received lead songwriting credit on several tracks is a good sign. Less promising is the use of Auto-Tune, which is so overzealous that at some point Bieber stops resembling an actual, human high school kid and starts to sound more like the lovesick robot from "WALL·E."

-- Allison Stewart

Recommended tracks

"Down to Earth," "Love Me"



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