Beyonce’s new album is ‘Lemonade.’ It was yet another surprise release, and yet another “visual album.” It premiered exclusively on TIDAL after her HBO special of the same title. Now the critics are weighing in and here’s a roundup of reviews.
Yes, even though we might have expected a surprise album from Beyonce, she managed yet again to surprise the world, including the industry with another album. There was mystery leading up to the HBO “Lemonade” special. We did not know what to expect. A documentary, perhaps? After all, the channel had been home to her previous documentaries, “Life Is But a Dream” and later, the concert film that chronicled the On the Run Tour, her first ever co-headlining tour with her husband Jay Z.
It was back in December of 2013 that Beyonce shook up the music industry and set new standards and expectations with the surprise release of her self-titled fifth album, dubbed a “visual album.” It arrived with 14-tracks and 14 corresponding music videos. Provocative, yes, of course, and the album spawned hits including “Drunk In Love,” her collaboration with Jay Z, as well as “Partition” and “Flawless.”
The stunning release, with no fanfare and no typical long, low promo drum-beating led to immense commercial success, as the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and set a record as the fastest selling album on iTunes, a record which, Adele’s ’25’ broke last year, incidentally.
We’ve seen in recent years other artists adopt this same model, to varying degrees of success. But leave it to the game changer herself to up the game with a surprise television special and a surprise album.
Well, truthfully we know something or other was on the way. Beyonce was already set to embark on her Formation World Tour on April 25th in Miami and thus far we had an explosive and controversial single, which gave that tour its title.
Recently, Beyonce defended ‘Formation’ and her Super Bowl performance of it. She told ELLE magazine in an interview, If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I’m proud of what we created and I’m proud to be a part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.”
But now the time for defending and explaining was over. Suddenly there was more music, and there were more music videos. A lot of them. As in an album, ‘Lemonade.’
And all this on a Saturday night. Music critics thus found their weekend routine interrupted, literally. Now their reviews are filing in and here’s a round up.
“….Lemonade wrestles with strife, but ultimately, like most things in Beyoncé’s world, it ends with triumph. What’s most impressive is that the singer manages to offer an album that dabbles in R&B, country, trap and piano balladry, yet flows seamlessly as a complete body of work….” — Rolling Stone
“…..Lemonade revealed only a little compellingly new about Beyoncé’s perspective on the world, but a great deal about her future. Devoted fans and casual listeners alike know that her music lies at the place where the power of the independent woman runs up against the desire for conventional romance……” — TIME
“….Lemonade,” which features songs titled “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” “Daddy Lessons” and “Love Drought,” may also be Beyoncé’s most outwardly personal work to date. The videos, heavy on Southern gothic imagery, are broken up with title cards that play on the Kübler-Ross model of grief — intuition, denial, anger, apathy, emptiness, accountability, reformation — as Beyoncé addresses years of tabloid speculation about her marriage head-on…..” — The New York Times
“….Lemonade isn’t the overtly political work some were expecting, so there’s no better placement for Formation than at the album’s coda, ending a record that traces the arc of a relationship with a definitive statement of self. …..” –USA TODAY
“….Overall, Lemonade is Beyoncé’s version of Here, My Dear— an album that detailed the fallout between Marvin Gaye and his wife Anna Gordy. Lemonade probably won’t be remembered as her most significant project, but it’s arguably Beyoncé’s most vulnerable moment…..” — Rolling Out
“…..Lemonade is by far Beyoncé’s strongest album. It features guest appearances by Kendrick Lamar and The Weekend. It samples Led Zeppelin, Animal Collective and The Beat’s version of Can’t Get Used To Losing You. There’s even a country song. Over the past few years, we’ve grown accustomed to Taylor Swift settling scores with Harry Styles, John Mayer and Katy Perry. But that’s just kid’s stuff. With Lemonade, Beyoncé proves there’s a thin line between love and hate……” — The Telegraph
“…. Lemonade opens a bit on a gospel note—but it’s gospel as you never heard it before. Bey’s breathy vocals are layered over one another, before the track turns into a piano ballad that sets the scene for something transformative. A beat subtly comes into the mix among gorgeous, orchestral strings and yips from our girl. The track concludes with Bey whispering, “What are you doing, my love?,” perhaps indicating a theme for the album……” — Fuse
Here’s the Lemonade Track list
01 Pray You Catch Me
02 Hold Up
03 Don’t Hurt Yourself [ft. Jack White]
05 6 Inch [ft. The Weeknd]
06 Daddy Lessons
07 Love Drought
09 Forward [ft. James Blake]
10 Freedom [ft. Kendrick Lamar]
11 All Night
Critics have had their say, and the world adjusts to the mere fact that yes, Beyonce can and does release albums by surprise, even when we have come to expect there might be a surprise. You can stream the album at TIDAL here and see the Beyonce ‘Lemonade’ album cover and videos below.
Pictures: PR Photos