Beyonce '4' album review FEATURE

She's come a long way since starting out as a member of Destiny's Child. Now a household name, Beyonce has released her fourth album, entitled '4', with a fusion of soul and pop. BritEvents' Lucy Middleton gives the new album a whirl to see if it lives up to expectations.

Beyonce '4'   album review

By Lucy Middleton,

Rated the 9th Most Powerful Woman in the world and 8th Best Paid Celebrity Under 30 by Forbes in the past year, R'n'B siren Beyonce Knowles is a force to be reckoned with, yet her new album 4 seems to fall short of expectations.

Beyonce Knowles first rose to fame as the lead singer of hit girl group Destiny's Child and after a stream of successful singles and albums, she left the band in 2002 to pursue her solo career. As a solo artist, the star has sold almost 90 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Beyonce has taken a new laid-back approach with her fourth album, aptly titled 4 which is apparently a nod to her April 4th wedding anniversary to her husband Jay-Z. This eagerly-anticipated album gives an air of the artist feeling as though she has nothing to prove, which couldn't be further from the truth. 72 songs were recorded by the internationally-renown singer with this album in mind, with the chosen 12 presumably the cream of the crop. An inconceivable amount of time and effort must have been invested in the crafting of 4, but was it in vain?

The album has a delectable vintage vibe throughout with apparent nods to icons of the 70s and 80s which have heavily influenced the tracks. The crossovers between soul and pop are incredibly smooth and the album starts off with such promise.

There are some stunning songs on this album including the first track 1+1, a smouldering, tender song that is one of the most outstanding ballads in the charts in recent years.

Following on from 1+1 is my personal favourite off the album I Care with velvety soft vocals, with lyrics exposing the utterly raw emotions of a woman hurt by an apathetic man.

Prime examples of the 80s nostalgia are the mellow groove of Party (featuring Andre 3000) and Love On Top, which is a shamelessly cheesy but good song.

After Best Thing I Never Had which is one of the more popular tracks, the album slowly draws to an anticlimax rife with conflicting messages, an example of which would be Rather Die Young.

Rather Die Young is a peculiar track which I imagine was written with intentions of touching the audience with her adoration of her man, whereas I just found the content perplexing. The lyrics "I'd rather not live at all than live my life without you" deliver a mixed message as Beyonce, particularly in Destiny's Child's heyday, always fiercely retained her independence and yet she now has written a song describing complete and utter reliance which is disappointing.

Countdown is the only song on the album that I could not bear to listen to. A bit clunky and awkward the song is tolerable at first, like Chinese water torture, however as the incessant beats keep drumming into your brain, they get incredibly insufferable.

Other let-downs were I Was Here and Run the World (Girls) which I felt were incredibly underwhelming, the latter seeming out of place as the only modern dance track on the album. It's apparent that America was also largely unimpressed by Run the World (Girls), as the single reached only number twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Beyonce's lowest charting lead single.

However credit is due for Beyonce's unfaltering vocals throughout. The songs off the album reveal her immaculate voice like never before which is, without a doubt, the most valuable charm of the album. 4 has been purposely mastered with her vocals intentionally sounding as live as possible which is demonstrative of her sheer talent; a refreshing change from the auto-tuned drivel that currently plagues our charts.

It has been speculated that she wanted to make this album more personal, but as made clear by numerous reticent interviews, this lady is a firmly closed book and keeps her life separate from her career.

The subject matter in the more emotionally turbulent songs seem as though they lack sincerity, and this may be because I recall in an interview many years ago that husband Jay-Z is Beyonce's first love. In a different interview, Jay-Z told People magazine the couple "don't play" in their relationship, so you can presume it is stable, therefore the turmoil and heartache Beyonce is singing about could be seen as fictitious. It's debatable whether you can truly carry a song's meaning if you haven't experienced the feelings yourself, however I feel it is important in order for fans to relate and feel empathy alike.

So for the reasons above, I can't help but feel the album is disingenuous. It is Beyonce's fourth album so fans should feel by this point they are well acquainted with her and yet she feels as elusive as ever, which is slightly frustrating.

Despite Beyonce's obvious talent, I can't help but feel 4 is lacking the pizazz to make it memorable - the first three tracks are the only songs on the album that feel as though they're of substance, while the remaining songs are relatively inoffensive album fillers. Having been in the charts as a solo artist for nearly a decade now, Beyonce might be an artist you've briefly listened to but never given the time to get under your skin. If so, I would not recommend this album as a starting point to truly showcase the talent of this modern-day diva.

In conclusion, 4 - having received mixed reviews within the media - is unfortunately an album that does not match up to its predecessors, yet it is a prime example of Beyonce's vocal abilities and will appeal to fans who are passionate about soul, groove and pop from eras gone by.

Your comments:

comments powered by Disqus