December 13, 2013
by Sean Garcia on Friday, December 13, 2013
Beyoncé - BEYONCÉ (Album Review)
Beyoncé ceremoniously unveiled her self-titled visual album that was available immediately on iTunes with both the songs and accompanying music videos for every song. This is a major gamechanger as most artists tend to release at least one or two singles to radio before their album is officially released along with multiple promotional appearances, interviews, and other things to build anticipation and interest in the album. Only a few artists have released an album without a single preceding it. Prince's Around The World In A Day was released in that fashion after the massive Purple Rain, with a first single only being released a full month after the album had been on store shelves. The inclusion of the video album is nothing new as other artists including Beyoncé herself did something like that for B'Day several years ago, but to release it with the album at the same time is different.
The album does not stray too far from the R&B sound she is known for, but this is her most experimental effort to date with Ambient, Electro, Dubstep, and even some Disco being represented in varying degrees. There are nearly a dozen producers and songwriters involved in the 14 tracks.
Overview of all of the songs:
Pretty Hurts This Dubstep inflected song is a dark song about paying the price of fame and is a commentary on society's notions of perfection and superficial beauty. Perhaps this is a window into her much guarded private life.
Haunted Composed as a suite with multiple tempos and different styles throughout, this one is similarly dark as the prior track. It's a bit all over the place but it's so well sung.
Drunk In Love (Featuring JAY Z) The super sensual slow jam features her husband joining in the fun.
Blow This porntastic Disco/R&B club banger is all about the carnal pleasure she is receiving courtesy of her lover. This is cut from the same cloth as Madonna's "Where Life Begins" which is about this same type of 'special love'.
No Angel Sung mostly in her breathy falsetto voice, this song has you craving that special someone to be there with you right now.
Partition This track opens with the "Yonce" interlude setting the stage for one of the most sexually explicit songs she has ever released. The interlude is half rapped, half sung. It builds up with a siren like synth before "Partition" comes in.
Jealous This highly relatable song about how two can play the jealousy game is loads of fun.
Rocket This is yet another erotic, playful song.
Mine (Featuring Drake) The R&B/Electro midtempo packs quite the punch with its various sounds.
XO The Ambient/Electropop track is easily the catchiest song from the record.
***Flawless (Featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) This originally surfaced as "Bow Down" several months back, however this one is far more developed. Manic and frantic, this one has a clear Prince influence with the multiple pitch shifted vocal effects.
Superpower (Featuring Frank Ocean) This dramatic duet with rising star Frank Ocean has so many effective subtle elements. Their voices blend beautifully.
Heaven Everything about this gorgeous piano ballad is perfect from the vocals to the melody and the lyrics.
Blue (Featuring Blue Ivy) The album closer features some cute vocals from her daughter adding to the otherworldly feel of the song.
Despite the myriad of sounds and styles, this album ends up being her strongest. Beyoncé's voice is in top form as it always is. The experimental nature makes this quite a grower. The sexual nature of some of the songs may be a tad much for some, however, it is not over the top and in your face the way some other artists have lately. Every single track is well done with none feeling like filler or that they were just added in for the sake of adding it. The highlights include "Blow", "Haunted", "XO", "Partition", "Rocket", and "Heaven".
The album is available exclusively through iTunes right now, however, a physical edition with both the songs and music videos will be released in the coming weeks.