Beyonce - 'Lemonade'
People have a tendency to get a little flustered whenever a new Beyoncé album is unleashed upon the world. When you add the manner in which it was released (cloaked in secrecy and premiered via HBO with a full-length visual album to accompany it), songs that allegedly deal with her husband Jay Z's marital infidelity, and the hoo-hah surrounding her Black Lives Matter-referencing 'Formation' into the mix, you've got a classic case of 'getting a tad carried away' on your hands.
What happens if you strip away the hyperbole surrounding the one-time Destiny's Child singer's sixth album, in that case? Well, it turns out that even without the bells and whistles, Lemonade is still a pretty good album. Those looking for pop bangers and ballads like 'Single Ladies' and 'Halo' might feel short-changed, however; this is Beyonce 2.0, a woman more concerned with making a statement – both musical and lyrical – than getting the crowd moving.
It's certainly her most personal album to date. 'Sorry' addresses the Jay Z rumours and leaves little open to interpretation, with lines like "Looking at my watch, he shoulda been home / Today I regret the night i put that ring on" and the already-infamous reference to "Becky with the good hair". 'Daddy Lessons' is a throwback to her childhood, touching upon her rocky relationship with her father and former manager Mathew; 'Love Drought' and 'Sandcastles' return to the themes of lost love and disappointment.
Yet it's not at all accurate to say that this is all po-faced balladry or an experimental endeavour of some sort, either. 'Hold Up' is a standout track, sampling everything from Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Andy Williams' 'Can't Get Used to Losing You'; 'Don't Hurt Yourself' and 'All Night' are enjoyably loose, guitar-led numbers. The Weeknd pops up to duet on the grimy club track '6 Inch', Kendrick Lamar provides a star turn on the excellent 'Freedom' and even James Blake lends his eerie quiver to short interlude 'Forward'.
More than anything else, 'Lemonade' seems to exhibit a Beyoncé who now wants to be positioned as an 'artiste' rather than just a mere 'pop star'. At the end of the day, is it her best album? Time will tell - but in terms of depth, it's certainly her most re-listenable.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 14:20 | Thursday 28th April 2016 | Album Review