All hail Queen B! In a truly unprecedented move, Beyoncé dropped her self-titled 5th studio album unannounced last night via iTunes. The move sent shockwaves through the internet and left fans praising Beysus for her bold move. The ‘visual album’ contains a video for every song on the record, including three bonus videos, and this inundation of Beyoncé content has made up for her much felt absence from the Pop music world.
Unlike her previous project, 4, which took many influences from vintage soundscapes, Beyoncé took a bold step forward to ‘reclaim’ her crown, enlisting Drake, hubby Jay Z, Frank Ocean, and even daughter Blue Ivy, for what is arguably her most ambitious album to date. The 14-track album is about as shocking as its release, dripping with sensuality, substance, and swagger.
This album in one word is, edgy. Many of the records on ‘Beyoncé’ are dipped in Houston’s trademark hip-hop sound, and in adding B’s powerhouse vocals, which sound better-than-ever (if that’s even possible), to the soundscape, the records ooze a swagger that solidifies B’s spot at the top of Pop.
The project as a whole is a standout, nothing feels out of place, and it feels like the kind of Beyoncé wanted to make, and obviously without a preceding single, Beyoncé is aware of her power and ability to create classics. Even with newly explored grounds, B does reach back to soundscapes that die-hard fans are familiar with, making it easy for fans old and new to embrace the project.
Beginning with the anthemic ‘Pretty Hurts,’ Bey addresses our image conscious society in a way that is most palatable, with her voice, and the message comes through loud and clear. From ‘Haunted’ to the Jay Z-assisted ‘Drunk In Love,’ B turns up the heat showing off her range over new soundscapes and flexing her muscle as one of the generation’s best vocalists. As far a ‘Partition’ goes, watch the video, that is all for that. The Drake-assisted ‘Mine’ is exactly as good as you’d expect a record between the two superstars to be. One of the first teasers from the album was ‘Bow Down’ which in its final form became ‘Flawless’... literally and figuratively, and features a powerful monologue from Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, which is a great addition because of the bit of backlash the initial release of the track got about its message. Slowing the album down with the Frank Ocean-assisted ‘Superpower’ the the vintage feeling track has many layers that make it a one of the standout tracks on the album. Closing the album with ‘Blue,’ a record dedicated to her daughter and featuring the toddler, Beyoncé’s vocals are impeccable and once again reminds listeners of her greatness.
In all honesty, this album is flawless. Whether you are a part of the BeyHive or not, Beyoncé is pound-for-pound one of the best albums of the year, and the risk of the new soundscapes, as well as the release, makes the project all the better.The rollout was genius and she just raised the bar for any artist looking to make a splash with an album release, and while she's not the first to use this method, she did it the best. The quality is as good as it has ever been, and the edgier B is even more interesting to listen to. Beyoncé’s 5th album will be forcing a lot of people to change their album of the year lists, and it is only right, for the Queen has returned, and we all must ‘bow down.’ Respect it. #EverythingIsBeyoncé
Overall Rating: 9.5/10