It is her most joyful record, observe critics, but is it her best work to date? That is the looming question as the LP drops suddenly.
eyonce Knowles, a former Destiny’s Child member, found enormous success with several albums, including singles like ‘Crazy in Love’. She went on to create a visual album, the Grammy nominated Lemonade, but lost the Grammy for Album of the Year to Adele. She followed it up with Everything Is Love with her husband Jay-Z as the Carters during 2018. The stage name for Everything is Love is not a coincidence because apart from being a collaborative project, it is a reference to her marriage to rap mogul Jay-Z. It included new and elaborate music videos and a world tour where Jay-Z joined Beyonce on multiple locations.
Fast forward to this summer season and Beyonce has just dropped a new album called Renaissance. Of course, everything Beyonce does in the aftermath of Lemonade is expected to be perfect. But if you manage to watch the documentary Homecoming (available on Netflix) you will realise that as hard as Beyonce works, she is someone who embraces imperfections.
A full-length album review requires more time and space than this space allows but there are some things we do know about Queen B’s newest release.
Her fans, who refer to themselves as the Beyhive, seem to be in a jubilant mood, but her seventh album, Renaissance, has also satisfied critics, mostly. Having decided to stay in the marriage with Jay-Z who allegedly cheated on her, after couple’s therapy and owning up to it, the new album is the opposite of Lemonade.
Beyonce wants fans to embrace an album that is “disco-pop” among an amalgamation of several genres.
On her website, Beyonce described the album as “a beautiful journey of exploration” and “a place to scream, release, feel freedom.”
It is supposedly more fun and carefree. And critics seem to agree. NME noted how “This is her most relentlessly upbeat and fun record yet.”
Essence seemed to agree and wrote in its review: “Compared to Beyonce and Lemonade — the prior two heavily centered on the singer’s feminism, intimate journey with her husband’s infidelity, and restoration of self after betrayal, Renaissance is all about joy.”
“This is by no means the first time that she has switched things up, but it’s Beyonce at her most playful,” said Stereogum
Critics also noted how her vocals were on point.
“Her vocal tones are pitch-perfect for their respective musical backdrops,” said Consequence of Sound.
However, it is also clear that while the record is full of joy, something that was missing from Lemonade, this is not the best Beyonce album.
“Is this an evolution from Lemonade? Not quite. But with Renaissance, Beyonce is more relatable than ever, giving listeners all the anthems and sultry slow burners we love and have come to expect from her, proving that inclusivity is the new black,” observed Rolling Stone.
Giving the album a chance by listening to it, first sequentially, followed by random songs to understand its cohesiveness or lack thereof, is something one of the biggest artists in the world certainly deserves. Whether it feels lackluster compared to her previous records is up to the fans to determine. An alarming fact is that both Beyonce and Adele will possibly compete in at least four categories. This one will be a tough one to call. In the meantime, listen to the album.