RENAISSANCE

Beyoncé

RENAISSANCE

Unique, strong, and sexy—that’s how Beyoncé wants you to feel while listening to RENAISSANCE. Crafted during the grips of the pandemic, her seventh solo album is a celebration of freedom and a complete immersion into house and dance that serves as the perfect sound bed for themes of liberation, release, self-assuredness, and unfiltered confidence across its 16 tracks. RENAISSANCE is playful and energetic in a way that captures that Friday-night, just-got-paid, anything-can-happen feeling, underscored by reiterated appeals to unyoke yourself from the weight of others’ expectations and revel in the totality of who you are. From the classic four-on-the-floor house moods of the Robin S.- and Big Freedia-sampling lead single “BREAK MY SOUL” to the Afro-tech of the Grace Jones- and Tems-assisted “MOVE” and the funky, rollerskating disco feeling of “CUFF IT,” this is a massive yet elegantly composed buffet of sound, richly packed with anthemic morsels that pull you in. There are soft moments here, too: “I know you can’t help but to be yourself around me,” she coos on “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA,” the kind of warm, whispers-in-the-ear love song you’d expect to hear at a summer cookout—complete with an intricate interplay between vocals and guitar that gives Beyoncé a chance to showcase some incredible vocal dexterity. “CHURCH GIRL” fuses R&B, gospel, and hip-hop to tell a survivor’s story: “I'm finally on the other side/I finally found the extra smiles/Swimming through the oceans of tears we cried.” An explicit celebration of Blackness, “COZY” is the mantra of a woman who has nothing to prove to anyone—“Comfortable in my skin/Cozy with who I am,” ” Beyoncé muses on the chorus. And on “PURE/HONEY,” Beyoncé immerses herself in ballroom culture, incorporating drag performance chants and a Kevin Aviance sample on the first half that give way to the disco-drenched second half, cementing the song as an immediate dance-floor favorite. It’s the perfect lead-in to the album closer “SUMMER RENAISSANCE,” which propels the dreamy escapist disco of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” even further into the future.

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