Beyonce’s Surprise Album: Her Best Yet?

While you were sleeping: Beyonce unleashed her new album. And she will go on to destroy charts for the foreseeable future.

The music production is unbelievably on-point and focused and vocal ranges are excellent (we all knew she could sing). She didn’t try and exploit the album in ways that perverted the perception, like Lady GaGa did with ARTPOP when she said it would be “album of the millennium.”

Somehow, Beyoncé prevented any way for the album to leak, like what happened with 4 two years ago. She didn’t promote it, hint at it, or even talk about it (scowling about the album doesn’t count as talking about it). Beyoncé didn’t do a press tour (normally, I’d think that a press tour would be good, but I guess Beyoncé is above all of that at this point).

There aren’t any gimmicks or pulls of this being her “most personal record yet”, like Britney Spears did when she released Britney Jean a couple of weeks ago. She did something pivotal to the music industry by throwing the music out there and letting it speak for itself. A rare and bold move that I can’t help but respect.

Even more, she released videos for each song. One might think that an album can’t be perfect, but Beyoncé created an album that’s wholly listenable, where each single can stand on it’s own two feet and really preform. At one point in her song Haunted, Beyoncé even says: “I probably won’t make no money off this, oh well.”

She’s just so honest to her craft that it’s thrilling for the listener to hear someone’s raw, emotions in such an interactive and visceral way.

Beyoncé didn’t have to make statements that this is her vulnerable album, a la Katy Perry. She didn’t need to make it controversial just to sell copies. She didn’t have to be abstract or wincingly vain.

What Beyoncé did do is set her work out there and say “this is my album, this is my story, these are my emotions.” The album is so Beyoncé and unflinchingly honest that it could even stand without the music videos for each song, but they add something extra and serve as a companion instead of looking like a gimmick.

“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it. I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans,” Beyonce said in the album’s announcement on Thursday.

She spends a lot of time talking about feminism and the way females are seen, not just in the industry, but society as a whole. She has a strong message for girls that encompasses the whole album; ideas that say “you can be successful and you can be sexual and you can be hurt and you can be vulnerable.”

The music is over-produced to sell a point, because the lyrics and the musicianship and artistry paint that picture pristinely clear for the listener. She even has a feature from Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, a writer in Nigeria who has been called the “most prominent procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”.

Beyoncé, and the self-titled album, remain to stay true to everything “Beyoncé” without short- or over-selling herself.

She talks about love and female empowerment and sexuality in ways that are relatable and distinctly real. She put herself into this album, and it doesn’t feel commercial or “for the industry.” Production-wise, it’s not hard to say that BEYONCÉ is album-of-the-year material. Each tracked shines so brightly on it’s own, but together it creates a constellation of emotion, complexity, and somehow of simplicity. Beyoncé created something that offers fans an X-ray of her life and her thoughts and her feelings. It’s not hard to tell that this one really was for the fans.

Rating: 5/5 (Seriously, it’s that good.)

Ian Proegler

Ian Proegler

Deeply sarcastic and opinionated, mildly nosy, and lover of all things ironic. I write for and about advocacy groups and political news (or scandals, yay).
Ian Proegler