The Queen is back and bigger than ever. Dropping LEMONADE out of nowhere, Beyoncé has yet again set another mark in music. While this effort may not be flawless throughout, but it holds its ground as one of the strongest pop albums this year has seen yet.
Beginning with the ominous synth and vocal intro of ‘PRAY YOU CATCH ME’, the album begins gently with a sweet and sensual track led by orchestra and harmonies. Things pick up with ‘HOLD UP’, a funky track that has a sense of fun (though unfortunately sampling the god-awful airhorn sound). The synth reminds me of the game Undertale, specifically the legendary ‘Dogsong’. In the song, Beyoncé sings about being the girl who loves a guy the most, fairly cliché but in execution, it’s a pretty sweet song. The good girl vibes are erased in the following song, ‘DON’T HURT YOURSELF’ featuring Jack White. This song has the rock drive of The White Stripes with a taste of hip-hop, building up epically. Beyoncé sounds huge and grand in her vocal delivery, embodying a badass old-school blues vibe. It’s quite a turn from the sweet vibes the first two songs of the album set up, with the first verse proudly declaring: “Bad motherfucker, God complex / Motivate your ass, call me Malcom X.” ‘SORRY’ isn’t too noteworthy - it’s something you’ve heard before; it’s basically a more confident version of Bieber’s song with a hip-hop flair. ‘6 INCH’ with The Weeknd is sensual as you’d expect, with a massive brooding soundscape backing it. ‘DADDY LESSONS’ starts with a New Orleans jazz style (as if to link with the lead single’s video) and kicks into a folky pop-rock track. This one was surprisingly groovy and infectious, definitely has a deep-South folk song vibe going on. The album goes back to a sweeter sound, ‘SANDCASTLES’ notably being a sweet, ballady track. The track ‘FORWARD’ feels like nothing more than a filler, and is truly forgettable in the grand scheme, especially before the epic ‘FREEDOM’ which features a characteristically destructive verse delivered by none other than Kendrick Lamar. ‘ALL NIGHT’ brings back some punchy brass in the verse (the opening line in the chorus feels like it came straight out of the sample from Jack Garratt’s ‘The Love You’re Given‘, though). The album ends with it’s lead single ‘FORMATION’ that feels overconfident and cocky, but in the right ways with Beyoncé.
LEMONADE is confident and strong, with sweet moments dispersed within. It feels like a story, in a way. Out of order, but all of the pieces are there. It draws from the past and the present, and looks out for the future. Beyoncé proved again she knows her power in the world of pop, blending jazz, folk, and rock into one cohesive pop record that is full of color.
Favorite Tracks: DADDY LESSONS, DON’T HURT YOURSELF, FREEDOM
Least Favorite Track: FORWARD