The escapist aesthetic of Renaissance is its personal type of assertion — Beyoncé’s means of asserting the primacy of Black musical types all through American pop historical past.
DAVE DAVIES, HOST:
That is FRESH AIR. The primary new Beyonce studio album in six years is right here and it is referred to as “Renaissance.” The pop star says the 16 tracks had been recorded through the pandemic. Our rock critic, Ken Tucker, says whereas the music is dense with allusions to totally different eras of pop music, Beyonce’s performances have a lightness and agility that offers the mission an typically thrilling vitality. Here is Ken’s evaluate.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “BREAK MY SOUL”)
BEYONCE: (Singing) You will not break my soul. You will not break my soul. You will not break my soul. You will not break my soul. I am telling all people, all people, all people, all people. Now, I simply fell in love. And I simply stop my job. I am gonna discover new drive. Rattling, they work me so rattling onerous. Work by 9, then off previous 5. And so they work my nerves. That is why I can not sleep at evening.
KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: That is “Break My Soul,” the primary single from Beyonce’s new album, “Renaissance.” “Break My Soul” was launched just a few weeks earlier than the album, and with its lyric about escaping the deadening drudgery of 9-5 work was extensively interpreted as Beyonce’s tackle the pandemic-inspired nice resignation. Little did we all know that what was to comply with was a complete album in regards to the freedom of escapism.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “ALIEN SUPERSTAR”)
BEYONCE: (Singing) I am one in all one. I am No. 1. I am the one one. Do not even waste your time attempting to compete with me. Nobody else on this world can assume like me. I am twisted. I am going to contradict it. Hold him addicted. Lies on his lips, I lick it. Distinctive. That is what you might be. Stilettos kicking classic crystal off the bar. Class – dangerous – I am the bar. Alien famous person. Whip, whip. I am too elegant for this world, endlessly, I am that lady. Feed you diamonds and pearls, oh, child. I am too elegant…
TUCKER: That is “Alien Celebrity,” over whose clattering beats Beyonce applies a layer of her patented constructive considering, solely half joking that she’s, quote, “too elegant for this world.” “Alien Celebrity” offers you an thought of the best way many songs listed here are constructed round rhythms and riffs that pulse and throb whereas Beyonce’s vocal soars atop the music. One of the best instance of that is the album’s longest observe referred to as “Virgo’s Groove,” as Beyonce croons over a languid, sneaky beat.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “VIRGO’S GROOVE”)
BEYONCE: (Singing) Child, come over. Come be alone with me tonight. All of the feelings. It is washing over me tonight. Proper right here. Proper now. Iced over. Chunk down. Child, lock in proper now. I would like it proper right here, proper now. Cuddled up on the sofa. Motorboat, child, spin round. Sluggish-mo popping out my home. I would like it proper right here, proper now.
TUCKER: At 6-minutes-plus, “Virgo’s Groove” is without delay very modern and really Eighties. Its sound owes one thing to the Michael Jackson-Quincy Jones albums of that period. And its hypnotic hook jogs my memory of Lakeside’s nice 1980 hit “Unbelievable Voyage.” Now take heed to the best way Beyonce rolls it again additional to the ’70s and nods to Donna Summer season’s “I Really feel Love” on the track “Summer season Renaissance.”
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “SUMMER RENAISSANCE”)
BEYONCE: (Singing) It is so good. It is so good. It is so good. It is so good. Oh, it is so good. It is so good. It is so good. It is so good. It is so good.
TUCKER: Elsewhere on “Renaissance,” Beyonce affords the track “Cuff it,” a thick slice of R&B that remembers Funkadelic’s “Not Simply Knee Deep.” And on one other standout observe, “Transfer,” she enlists dance music pioneer Grace Jones with some emphasis on Detroit techno music.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MOVE”)
BEYONCE: (Singing) Transfer, transfer, transfer. Yeah, you bought to maneuver, transfer. Something you do will likely be held towards you. It’s important to transfer, transfer, transfer. Skrrt (ph) off, make room. Stampede coming by. Large boss on the transfer. Yeah. Bounce it.
TUCKER: There are some breathtaking moments on “Renaissance,” that are all of the extra spectacular for the best way Beyonce delivers them so casually. Take heed to the best way she nearly buries this gorgeously fluid burst of phrasing towards the tip of the track “Pure Honey.” Lesser artists would construct a complete hit single round a verse that Beyonce simply tosses off.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PURE HONEY”)
BEYONCE: (Singing) You realize it is Friday evening, and I am able to drive. Throw me them keys. Child, let’s go. Friday evening and I am able to drive. Throw me them keys. Child, let’s go. We soar within the automotive, quarter tank of gasoline. World’s at struggle, low on money. Leap within the automotive, quarter tank of gasoline, world’s at struggle, low on money. I ain’t by no means felt a sense like this. You been in love however not like this. Candy honey sin, style it in your lips. Up and down on it, mild swap.
TUCKER: Aside from the track titled “America Has A Drawback” and a fleeting reference to the electoral defeat of Donald Trump, there’s little of the social commentary that was laced by her earlier album, 2016’s “Lemonade.” However the escapist aesthetic of “Renaissance” is its personal type of assertion. Beyonce’s means of asserting the primacy of Black musical types all through American pop historical past. And “Renaissance” locations Beyonce on the very middle of pop music proper now.
DAVIES: Rock critic Ken Tucker reviewed Beyonce’s new album referred to as “Renaissance.” On Monday’s present, actor Melanie Lynskey. She’s nominated for an Emmy for her main position within the Showtime sequence “Yellowjackets.” The present tells the story of a women soccer workforce that went down in a aircraft crash in 1996 and needed to survive within the wilderness for over a 12 months. Lewinsky’s different movies embody “Heavenly Creatures,” “Up In The Air,” “The Informant” and “Do not Look Up.” I hope you’ll be able to be part of us.
FRESH AIR’s government producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham, with further engineering help by Joyce Lieberman, Julian Herzfeld and Al Banks. For Terry Gross, I am Dave Davies.
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