Beyoncé: Beyoncé

21 Jan

Beyoncé, the album is Beyoncé the singer, not Beyoncé distilled or Beyoncé as an album. This is very simply Beyoncé the person. Skilled, varied, confident and astoundingly explicit, Beyoncé may not be for everyone, but she certainly rewards those who are willing to work for her.

This is an exceedingly personal album, with topics ranging from feminism to motherhood to her sex life and so you should expect your enjoyment to be tempered by who exactly you are. An identity message this strong can be alienating. However, it is rare to hear a voice as clear as Beyoncé’s and the album feels fresh in its unapologetic statement of self. Despite the freedom, the album never comes off as particularly deep but that was probably never its intention.

The music itself is highly impressive electro-R&B, even by Beyoncé’s standards. It feels clear, when listening to her, that many of her contemporaries simply do not have the voice to run half of her songs. The production is nothing novel but serves the purpose. The focus is as ever Beyoncé herself though. Even the guest spots, featuring no less than Jay-Z, Frank Ocean and Drake, firmly remain guest spots. She is at her best in the faster numbers, and the middle of the album feels mostly like filler, but the entirety is quite good.

It can be easy with this album to be distracted by the lack of hype before the album was dropped or the visual album experiment (incidentally, watching the album definitely improves it) or the debates around it. However, even when all of that fades, Beyoncé is still going to hold up as one of the career highlights of one of the few true pop superstars.

@murthynikhil

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