Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance is a triumphant tour de force- just the kind of electrifying jumpstart that Pop and R&B needed this year. Now I know what you’re thinking: this has literally been out for nearly two months. And yes, you’d be correct in saying so- but it would simply be a disservice to this masterful work of art to just give it a standard review.
This record is a dance floor album- with the track list seamlessly arranged to feel like a DJ set in the greatest club on the planet. Celebrating both the Black and Queer communities who helmed the disco and house music movements, Beyoncé’s successfully crafted a work of art that feels like healing. Now let’s break down some of the best moments!
In true Beyoncé fashion, the album begins on an empowering moment with tracks “I’m That Girl” and “Cozy”, setting the tone perfectly for what is to come. Ms. Sasha Fierce has built her entire career around a discography meant to exude confidence, so there really isn’t anything astoundingly different here- yet these opening tracks still hit just as hard. The production choices and melodies are unlike anything Queen Bey has ever released and are instantly memorable in an album full of standout tracks. “Cozy” specifically is the kind of track you instantly wish you knew every word to so you can blast it and sing along in the car. It’s that good.
In my eyes (and thankfully in my ears too) the album would be all that much lesser if not for “Alien Superstar” which is definitely a candidate for song of the year for me. It’s futuristic, while keeping one eye on the past- inherently euphoric and transportive into a galaxy all her own. Somehow fierce, sexy, confident and feminine- the song represents the multitudes of Beyoncé. “I’m too classy for this world, forever I’m that girl, Feed you diamonds and pearls, ooh baby, I’m too classy to be touched, I paid them all in dust, I’m stingy with my love,” she interpolates Right Said Fred’s song “I’m Too Sexy” in the chorus- still somehow making it her own and unlike any music being released today.
Now there’s a reason why people are absolutely devouring “Cuff It” online, crafting their own choreography which simply insights joy upon every watch and listen. The song feels so classic, like an older track I would’ve heard my parents reminiscing about during my childhood. And that’s not to say it’s outdated, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The chorus is infectious, making you feel invincible like only a night out with your best friends can do. “Bet you you’ll see far, Bet you you’ll see stars, Bet you you’ll elevate, Bet you you’ll meet God, ‘Cause I feel like fallin’ in love,” the post chorus is the true standout here- both addictive and vocally powerful. It’s peak Beyoncé.
Now we can’t talk about this album without addressing the lead single- “Break My Soul”. Admittedly, it was not my favorite on the first listen. I found it a bit abrasive and not quite the comeback single I’d hoped for. I will however say that it is very much a grower as it has gotten better with every single listen- both empowering and joyous as the production continues to build until the end where a choir accompanies Beyoncé on a gorgeous pulled back note. I’m very happy to report that I was quite wrong about this track and while it still isn’t my favorite on the record, I do think it was the perfect lead single to bring us all back into the BCU (Beyoncé Cinematic Universe).
“Plastic Off The Sofa” is vocal heaven- sonically ethereal and another timeless track that could’ve been released in the 1970’s (but thankfully we get to be the ones to discover it today). Her vocal delivery is light and airy here, with every single one of her choices placed perfectly. If this song had been somehow placed in the wrong hands, it could’ve gone oh so wrong. A lesser singer might have overdone the runs and made it tasteless with senseless vocal acrobatics- in case you need an example of this, I highly recommend checking out the “Plastic Off The Sofa Challenge” which has gone viral on TikTok. But when you listen to Beyoncé sing her absolute ass off here, you just completely understand why she is exactly where she is today. Being the only drastic change of pace on this dance heavy album, it’s a true standout and is reminiscent of Beyoncé’s early solo work.
Now I could sit here and talk about this album until I’m blue in the face, or rather until Act II comes out, but I highly recommend that you simply check it out for yourself. Any review or remarks from me will just fail to capture the magic of it all- so do yourself a favor and whether you’re out on a drive, cleaning around the house, or relaxing on your couch- blast this album as loud as you possibly can.
Beyoncé succeeds in every aspect with Renaissance, the first Act of her new trilogy, an album that grants its listeners an ounce of the confidence and empowerment that Beyoncé exudes. It’s just enough to keep us going, giving us exactly what we need in order to move on from what isn’t working in our lives and go on to not only live a better life, but to thrive.
Renaissance isn’t just an album, it’s an experience. It’s an hour-long dance party with your best friends, the much-needed night out after a difficult week, the escape we can all use from the ugliness in this world. And we have THE Beyoncé to thank for that.
Renaissance is out now on all platforms!