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alexferguson
24th August 2022

Album Review: RENAISSANCE by Beyoncé

Alex reviews Beyonce’s latest album, RENAISSANCE – an album filled with dance hits left, right and centre.
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Album Review: RENAISSANCE by Beyoncé
RENAISSANCE by Beyonce official album art

Beyoncé is back. It has been six years since her last solo album, the critically acclaimed Lemonade, and RENAISSANCE is finally here. Has it been worth the wait? The short answer is yes. One thousand percent.

 

While Beyoncé has released plenty of club-ready bangers throughout her career, RENAISSANCE is her first album to be firmly rooted to the dance-floor from beginning to end, drawing heavily from house and disco. Far from being a run of the mill dance-pop record, RENAISSANCE sets itself apart by being an overt celebration of Black and LGBT+ influence in dance music.

 

‘HEATED’ features the sound of clacking fans and a shoutout to Bey’s older cousin, nicknamed Uncle Johnny, who died after battling HIV. ‘COZY’ includes lyrics that list the colours of the pride progress flag, and samples words spoken by TS Madison. The album’s shining moment of celebrating queer Black culture is ‘LOVE/HONEY’, a house track inspired by the New York Ballroom scene and featuring a sample of the late Moi Renee’s ‘Miss Honey’. With an infectious beat and lyrics like “Bad bitches to the left / Money bitches to the right” and “Get your money, money, cunty, hunty”, it seems destined to become a go-to song for drag and ballroom peformers for years to come.

 

While much of Beyoncé’s recent music has dealt with issues surrounding racism, inequality and injustice, RENAISSANCE takes on a lighter tone as an unabashedly joyful ode to self-love, inclusivity, and confidence. Few artists can pull of the self-empowering, sh*t-talking confidence that Beyoncé exudes with lines like “You know all these songs sound good / ‘Cause I’m on that ho” in ‘I’M THAT GIRL’ and “I’m one of one, I’m number one, I’m the only one / Don’t even waste your time trying to compete with me” in ‘ALIEN SUPERSTAR’. None of this seems forced – at this stage in her career, Beyoncé has more than proven herself to be that girl.

 

As for the sound of the tracks themselves, RENAISSANCE is undoubtedly Beyoncé’s most cohesive project to date. The album features seamless transitions between tracks, like the euphoric transition from ‘COZY’ into ‘ALIEN SUPERSTAR’ and the truly explosive transition from ‘ENERGY’ into the album’s lead single ‘BREAK MY SOUL’, bridged by the sampled vocals of Big Freedia. Even the album’s slowest track, the sultry ‘PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA’, has a danceable beat while being a much needed breather in the midst of the album’s kaleidoscopic house-disco inferno.

 

Perhaps the only track that feels out of place is ‘ALL UP IN YOUR MIND’. Sandwiched between album standouts ‘THIQUE’ and ‘AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM’, this AG Cook produced track swings towards glitchy hyperpop but ultimately falls somewhat flat. It’s worth emphasising, however, that there are no truly bad tracks on this album – for all intents and purposes, RENAISSANCE is a no-skip affair. The best track on the album is saved for last with ‘SUMMER RENAISSANCE’, an impossibly catchy and danceable disco track that samples and interpolates Donna Summer’s immortal hit ‘I Feel Love’, closing off the album with a bang.

 

More than twenty years into her career, Beyoncé has proven that she is at the top of her game. Living up to and even exceeding the exceptionally high bar set by Beyoncé (2013) and Lemonade (2016), RENAISSANCE might just be her best album to date. It’s also possible that the best is still to come; RENAISSANCE has been billed as merely the first act of a three-act project.  As the Queen herself says on ‘BREAK MY SOUL’ – Bey is back and I’m sleeping real good at night.

9/10

 

 

 

 


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