Beyoncé – Beyoncé

December 14, 2013 at 7:25 PM | Posted in Beyoncé | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Beyoncé – BEYONCÉ

1. Pretty Hurts
2. Ghost / Haunted
3. Drunk In Love (feat. Jay-Z)
4. Blow
5. No Angel
6. Yoncé / Partition
7. Jealous
8. Rocket
9. Mine (feat. Drake)
10. XO
11. ***Flawless (feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
12. Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean)
13. Heaven
14. Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)

♦ ♦ ♦

BEYONCÉ is the fifth album by American singer Beyoncé, released on December 13, 2013. The album was released unexpectedly to the iTunes Store without any promotion having taken place. The album sold 80,000 copies in its first three hours of availability.

Pretty Hurts is all about the overexaggerated beauty industry, and Beyoncé captures it perfectly. The song starts off with a dialogue during a beauty pageant, after which a smooth and catchy pop/soul song with clear R&B influences. Beyoncé’s vocals in this track are perfect, not oversinging a single note but really delivering a message. Penned by Sia, this song is perfect to show a more vulnerable side of Bey too.

The next track is… interesting. It’s so non-commercial and it lives up to its title. Ghost / Haunted features Beyoncé rapping her lyrics to a soft haunting background beat, before a deeper  beat comes in to give it a heavier hiphop flow. After a minute or three of pure badass stuff, Ghost transitions into Haunted, which has a little more tempo to it. Beyoncé also sings her lyrics here, but everything stays very minimal, which I’m not used to when it comes to her music but it’s pretty amazing.

No single was released prior to the album, but one of the possible options should’ve been Drunk In Love (feat. Jay-Z). This song with a deep slow jam is perfect for the urban contemporary radio stations. Myself, I needed to get used to it for a little bit but I do have a weak spot for hiphop tracks so I can dig this for sure. I don’t even mind Jay-Z, while usually I find him very annoying. Beyoncé’s higher notes in this track are pure perfection.

Let’s pretend Blow is not about oral sex, shall we? It’s catchy nonetheless, since it’s produced by the dream team that worked on JT’s 20/20 Experience. Pharrell’s influence speaks loudly from this popping disco-inspired song, taking me back to the B’Day era with songs like ‘Green Light’ and ‘Kitty Kat’ (in fact, combine those two and you get this song). This brings some retro flavor nicely onto the album.

No Angel features Beyoncé’s more falsetto vocals, especially in the verses. This R&B track has some electropop influences to make it more interesting, but the rest of the song stays on the down low. Her vocals are nice and breathy, altered by vocoders near the end of the song which doesn’t sound too bad either. Besides the quality of the vocals, there’s not much here that impresses me all that much.

As soon as I heard the beat featured in the first part of Yoncé / Partition, I turned my volume way up. And to imagine this deep and heavy semi-rap track Yoncé is just the interlude to the real popping track Partition. It follows perfectly after Yoncé dropped that delicous beat. It’s similar to Blow, with lyrics all about sexual and sensual content. I love the combination of beats and synths in this track, destined to be on repeat in my playlist.

Jealous needs some time to develop, but then this appears to be so much more than just the next deep track with a dark side. True, it’s like saying FU to your ex, but this is like a perfect follow-up to and grown-up version of ‘If I Were A Boy’. The brooding beat sometimes reminds me of Lana Del Rey music, just a little bit, and everything in the entire song keeps building until it almost reaches the highlight part. Then it just stops, right there. Pity, I wanted more of this.

So this album is apparently filled with songs to move it to the bedroom to, if you know what I mean. Rocket is another smooth and slow track with some soulful elements that keep me interested throughout the full six and a half minutes, something I didn’t expect. Musically, it’s not much, but the layered vocals and gospel-like features are very likeable.

Mine (feat. Drake) starts as a piano ballad, which would’ve been very much out of place since Drake is involved. But then the track speeds up with hiphop beats and amazing raps by Drake, before Beyoncé takes over again. Both singers work together very well, taking turns performing their parts in this track that seems like a patchwork of melodies and different parts. It has some very interesting and addictive badass parts though.

After all the raunchy songs and deep hiphop explosions, XO is a very welcome change with a unique pop sound. Obviously Ryan Tedder worked his magic on this, and his collab with Beyoncé’s vocals is perfection. There’s a certain warmth and carelessness coming from this song that many of the other songs didn’t have (or at least had in a very different way). I can see this becoming one of my favorite songs of the album because of the way it sounds so special.

***Flawless (feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) is what eventually became of that crazy track ‘Bow Down/I Been On’ that was released in early 2013. I never really knew what to make of this, but on this album it actually fits in this form. There are a lot of hiphop tracks on this album, so a little bit of trap can’t hurt, right? It features parts of the feminist speech by Adichie, adding something extra to the song that just breathes feminism. It’s good if you can handle it, otherwise just stick to ‘Halo’.

When a track is called Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean), you probably expect it to sound something like ***Flawless does. Actually, it’s a very slow triple time doo-wop song with a very mysterious undertone. Frank Ocean has a good voice, I guess he wasn’t called ‘the new Prince’ by some for nothing. This song just flows by, very much at ease, not forgettable but not all that memorable either.

Heaven is probably the only emotional track on the album, and also the only real piano ballad. With Beyoncé singing “Heaven couldn’t wait for you // So go on, go home“, it talks about the death of a loved one. There are some hints to gospel music, but Beyoncé kept it very small and non-dramatic in the first part. In the second half, she finally let go a little more and she really touched me. I’ve been waiting for a track like this on the album, wow.

Blue (feat. Blue Ivy) closes the album on a very sweet note (so it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the tracks, but w/e). After a minute, a groovy beat drops in and I get the feeling I have heard this song somewhere before. It has its very own uplifting sound, adding more and more instruments like deep synths as it progresses. Little Blue Ivy has some parts in this song at the very end, speaking in her cute baby voice. Aawhh…

So I never saw this album coming, just like everyone else. I wonder what happened since ‘4’, because that album and BEYONCÉ have very different sounds while Beyoncé said ‘4’ was the kind of music she wanted to make. To many negative comments perhaps? This album is all about revealing the gangster in Beyoncé, the one that talks about sex very openly and raps her lyrics instead of letting her powerful vocals carry a more moving message. So yes, I think there’s something missing here; Beyoncé’s genuine style. Still, I love how she tackles the hiphop flow that’s present on most of the tracks. Tracks that I played two or more times in a row include Drunk In Love, Yoncé / Partiti0n and Jealous, and the latter is probably my absolute favorite. This album includes some diamonds in the rough, I’ll give it some time for me to really get used to them.

Favorite tracks: Pretty Hurts | Ghost / Haunted | Drunk In Love (feat. Jay-Z) | Blow | Yoncé / Partition | Jealous | Mine (feat. Drake) | XO | Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarblankstar
4 stars

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