Review: The Queen Bey Stings Again in ‘Renaissance’
Beyonce’s experimental seventh studio album is energetic and invigorating, something that we’ve all been missing since the pandemic began.
Yasir Muhammad, Arts & Entertainment Edtor
Beyonce’s long-awaited RENAISSANCE is here, and fans are swarming to the new sounds and energy she brings in RENAISSANCE, act one of a trilogy project. RENAISSANCE is the first solo studio album since Lemonade in 2016. She has kept herself busy, lending her voice to the live-action Lion King movie, creating a live album, collaborating on a joint project, as well as Ivy Park, her athleticwear clothing line.
The project dives into the most exciting times in Black music, spanning from ‘90s hip-hop to ‘70s disco. This album is a change of pace from the date night or girls’ trip type of vibes we are used to from Bey and takes us through a “journey of exploration” to produce this experimental dance album.
During the lockdown, she wanted “a safe place, a place without judgment,” she wrote on her website. “A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom.” That place ended up being the dance floor, a place that has been lonely since the lockdown and has never been the same since.
And when the pandemic hit, Beyoncé caught on to what her fans missed most: the joy of gathering in the club, letting the music take you over, and sweating as a collective body. As our biggest pop stars increasingly turn to dance music for inspiration, Beyoncé focused her famous work ethic on the nuances of club culture for a challenging, densely referenced album that runs circles around her similarly minded, Billboard-charting peers. For nearly a decade she has made pop music on her own terms, now pop fans bend to Beyoncé, not the other way around.
For 62 minutes, RENAISSANCE allows listeners, wherever or whoever they are, to immerse themselves in its seamless, shape-shifting songs. Its heavy percussion entices us to release the tension — or, at times, to embrace it, like on the undulating “Cozy,” a statement of self-empowerment in which Beyoncé declares she’ll cut loose in front of the mirror and kiss her scars “because I love what they made.” Reflections on daily strife and “oceans of tears we cried” dot the record, but they’re soothed by its constant movement.
RENAISSANCE delivers on its promise to make listeners feel good and move their bodies. From the recurring “UNIQUE!” scream on the criminally fun “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” and the funky splendor of “CUFF IT” to the energetic and instant-classic rap verse on the outro of “HEATED” and the nostalgic Donna Summer-sampling “SUMMER RENAISSANCE,” RENAISSANCE is the type of music fans needed to get up and “release the wiggle”.
This album is a party from start to finish, and like any good party, you need variety, which she gives in songs like ”THIQUE” and “PURE/HONEY,” while overall keeping the same upbeat, energetic pace. The album featured smooth transitions that made the album feel more like six long songs rather than 16 separate tracks. The few variations she provides offer some breaks in the cadence maintained throughout the hour and two-minute album, but overall, its repetitive nature makes this album very tiring and easy to skip through.
However, like most albums, I think that fans will latch on to one or two songs from the album. These songs will be on repeat in clubs, events, and on the headphones of many of the ‘BeyHive,’ because Bey innovates and sets the standard for pop music whenever she produces a work of art.