Tunes Review: Beyonc?’s New Album is Steamy and Sleek

December 14th, 2013

“Beyonc?” appeared in the iTunes songs store with no warning.

Beyonc? is flawless so no 1 else has to be.

That is the theme of her fantastic fifth studio album, “Beyonc?” (Parkwood Leisure/Columbia), which arrives as a feat of each songs and advertising. Its songs are steamy and smooth, complete of erotic exploits and sultry vocals each and every so typically, for assortment, they flip susceptible, compassionate or professional-feminist. And with both the music and the movies, Beyonc? consolidates 1 of pop’s most finely balanced personas she is, at when, glamorous and down-house, carnal and sweet, “Queen Bey” and a diligent trouper, polished and human. “Underneath the rather face is one thing complex,” she sings in “No Angel.”

“Beyonc?” out of the blue appeared in the iTunes songs keep with no prior buzz — although plenty thereafter — at midnight Eastern time on Thursday. That is the newest iteration of a tactic currently utilized this 12 months by David Bowie and My Bloody Valentine, who also unveiled albums with no announcement or buildup. Of program, Beyonc? a single-upped them: “Beyonc?” consists of elaborate movies for each song, numerous of them made on area — in France, Brazil, Australia — while the multitasking Beyonc? was taking her “Mrs. Carter Show” tour around the world. (It returns to Barclays Middle on Dec. 19 and 22.)

She needed only an Instagram announcement to attract international interest, and the album instantly went to No. 1 in ninety nations on iTunes’ rankings. It was no secret that she had been doing work for a extended time on the album, her 1st given that “4,” in 2011. And it arrives at practically the previous attainable minute for the lucrative Xmas time.

But Beyonc? reworked a hold off into a promoting point. And by not production discs until finally the album appeared on the web — they are promised to retail stores before Christmas — her label prevented the leaks that frequently happen in the course of producing and distribution. Neatly accomplished.

In a year total of overblown advertising campaigns for albums that had been letdowns — amid them, “Magna Carta … Holy Grail,” by Beyonc?’s partner, Jay Z — “Beyonc?” should long outlast the first stir. The music are warn to the existing audio of golf equipment and radio, but not trapped by it the refrains are terse and direct, but what happens between them isn’t formulaic. And even though Beyonc? constructed the tunes with a phalanx of collaborators, they all know far better than to eclipse her creamy, soulful voice.

Following the scattershot styles on “4,” Beyonc? has picked to adhere with mainly electronic R&ampB. She labored with longtime hitmakers — Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, The-Dream, Justin Timberlake — and relative newcomers like Hit-Boy and Boots. Primarily, they offer her with indicates of seduction: specifically in “Rocket,” an ultraslow tease that seems to be again to Prince (by way of the Prince supporters Miguel and Mr. Timberlake, who are between the songwriters), as harmonies blossom all about Beyonc?’s cooing lead vocal.

The even much more express “Partition,” savoring intercourse in a limo, has a sparse synthesizer pulse and little swoops before a whispery chorus joins her. “Superpower,” a vow of long lasting “tough love” which is a duet with Frank Ocean, offers doo-wop a futuristic sheen, as her voice goes minimal and smoky. Meanwhile, “Jealous” — about claims, suspicion and prospective revenge — turns into an accusatory anthem.

But Beyonc? provides solidarity alongside romance. “Heaven” is a mourning music with hymnlike piano, supplying tearful comfort and ease: “Heaven could not wait for you/So go on, go home” it could be heard at funerals for several years to come. “Flawless,” with a staccato, entice-flavored track, mixes growling superstar autobiography — “I took some time to dwell my daily life/but really do not feel I’m just his small wife” — with a feminist speech from a Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and a sisterly cheer, “I appear so excellent tonight!”

The album’s opener is “Pretty Hurts,” composed with Sia Furler, which denounces “plastic smiles” and warns, “It’s the soul that requirements the surgical procedure.” Its video clip demonstrates elegance pageant contestants in backstage distress, and by way of the album, both video and audio snippets remind us that Beyonc? has been a performer and contestant since childhood.

“Flawless” commences and finishes with a televised expertise contest misplaced by one of Beyonc?’s a lot of youthful groups, Ladies Tyme (raising the hindsight concern of exactly where the winners are now). And while most of the videos display Beyonc? in elaborate designer luxurious with dancers and actors, she also seems between normal individuals on Coney Island, in Brazil and at a Houston roller disco.

The total album consists of a video of “Grown Woman” — a music that appeared previously this year as a Pepsi professional — that juxtaposes photographs of the wealthy, grown-up Beyonc?, consume in hand, with grainy shots of her youthful initiatives as a performer: eager, smiling, diligent. Superstar and striver, impossibly accomplished with out forgetting a humble begin, Beyonc? has it the two methods, and “Beyonc?” tends to make it plausible.

Ben Sisario contributed reporting.

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