Album Review: Beyonce – ‘4’

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    After taking a year away from the stage, Beyonce has returned to the music scene with her 4th studio album, aptly entitled ‘4’. However, this LP wasn’t made for the simple enjoyment of her fans; it was crafted to silence her critics.

    The diva steps away from the dance floor and into the songbooks of her favourite artists, adding depth to her often shallow sound. Indeed, for the first time since her debut album, ‘Dangerously In Love’, Beyonce has made a classic record instead of a collection of radio friendly hits.

    Utilising the passion of her brassy voice and impressive range, Beyonce reintroduces herself as one of the leading vocalists of her time. From the gritty, Prince-inspired ‘1+1’ to the haunting ‘I Miss You’, she switches from roaring belts to breathy falsettos, replacing the synths of her previous hits with live instrumentation and the various colours of her voice.

    This is best demonstrated on the ballad ‘I Care’ where the raw power of Beyonce’s vocals is near frightening. It is on this song that listeners get to hear the full extent of her vocal range as she climbs from the growling lows to perfectly controlled high notes that mimic the sounds of a young Deniece Williams.

    Other standout tracks on ‘4’ include the Diane Warren-penned ‘I Was Here’, likely future single ‘Start Over’ and the only song on the album that includes a guest performer, ‘Party (Ft. Andre 3000)’. Nonetheless, none of these tracks can compete with exhilarating ‘Love On Top’.

    Combining the youthful sound of the Jackson 5 and the vocal gymnastics of Mariah Carey, Beyonce takes her voice to a place where few can follow without missing a beat on the instant classic. This is where she finally drops her guard and allows us to experience the unbridled joy of her mysterious relationship with husband Jay-Z.

    Still, every album has weak points. Shockingly, however, Beyonce stumbles in the area where she usually shines – the uptempos.

    The horrendous first single, ‘Run The World’, which was a poor representation of the album’s direction, and the noisy ‘Countdown’ are clear attempts by the singer to appease her younger fans who have grown accustomed to her nonsensical tunes geared toward future endorsement deals. These tracks only function as disruptions from the general flow of the LP.

    On the other hand, the drum-heavy ‘End of Time’ proves to be a winner, regardless of the redundant lyrics that make it sound like a misplaced interlude. When Beyonce stated that she was inspired by the sounds of Fela Kuti for this album she was clearly referring to this song.

    In the end, Beyonce achieved her goal of creating material that she could sing many years into her career. By returning to her R&B roots and distancing herself from her peers who continue to battle for the affections of the Dance/Pop audience, she has finally done the one thing that her critics have been asking of her – she matured.

    Standout tracks: ‘Love On Top’ and ‘I Care’

    Weakest track: ‘Run The World (Girls)’

    Possible singles: ‘Party (Ft. Andre 3000)’, ‘Countdown’ and ‘Start Over’

    The Lava Lizard Rating: 4/5 Stars

    What do you think of the review?

    • JohnnyS

      I couldn’t have written this any better. Love on Top is probably one of my favorites. The way she goes higher and higher at the end is Mariah Carey circa 92. The album is amazing, her best since her debut. She’s over the pop. She did it, she conquered, now shes moving on. Good review Trent.

    • Jonathan

      I agree! “4” is a great album and is truly an evolution for Beyonce. She took a risk in this “microwavable, all hits, no substance or raw talent needed” generation, and its paying off. I admire any artist who goes against the grain, especially when their rebellion is supported by quality and artistry. You may hate it that you can’t shake your sweaty asses through “4”, but you cant say the songs are bad. No doubt will be a Grammy favorite. Good Job Beyonce!

    • u could at least reviewed the deluxe edition…i bet if it was Mariah u would have…but “Dance For You” is the best over all song on the album

    • LindseyMari

      @dapope9, YESSSSSS! “Dance For You” is my jam too. I been having it turned up to ignorant levels of loud all day, LOL. Honestly, the bonus tracks were better than some of the album cuts to me, but I guess I always loved the Sasha Fierce type of songs from hher than the ballads. If there was ever a misplaced song on the album, Run The World should not have been after “I Was Here”.

    • MuzikMan

      I agree with this review except for what you said about Countdown!

    • Jodeci

      Yes this review was on point down to the T. The album is great I for one am glad she matured with her music. I was so glad she didn’t go the “let’s get a quick hit pop song” If I can’t get this song as a single I would like for Beyonce to give me Schoolin’ Life live because that song is the business, should have been 1st single.

    • Tazzee

      Totally agree. This is my favorite album from Beyonce. Love on Top is my absolute favorite.

    • Love the review!!! I feel everything you stated. My favorite track is ‘I Was Here’. Her voice on the second voice is so scary and deep. Very powerful song. Kudos to Diane Warren for a beautifully written song with so much depth within the lyrics.

    • Chris

      Trent did you smoke before you wrote this? This album is pure trash! Rihanna’s Loud >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> this.

      • Mario

        In which world?Chris Land!

    • This truly does show Beyonce’s growth as an artist! Loved the review Trent but I disagree with you about Countdown.

    • I AGREE 100%… this is the type of album an artist who doesn’t have anything to prove puts out. Maturity, slow paced, vocal range.. shines vs catchy, poppy, dance faze that everyone else is going in. i love it

    • MagicK

      Love On Top is the business!!! Epic

    • spunkypoop

      This was fare review.

    • Ugh

      I love Run The World. The thing is, I don’t understand how it got on the album. It just doesn’t belong. Overall i’ve been listening the the album over and over and I really like it.

    • TheMan

      i know u love mimi, but Love on top is classic Whitney. This is Beyonce’s BEST cd to date, her vocals are crazy

    • WonderLand19

      On point review. I love this album and Run the world (Girls) is my JAM! Her vocals are AMAZING and EMotional on this album. I will be buying this album as its a classic. This record shows growth. One thing i want from EVERY artist.

    • Shantigo

      Trent, good job Love on Top is one of my favorites….Run the world is a good work out song but that is all

    • READY.TO.BE.ENTERTAINED

      @Chris don’t spout lies.

      t4p good review! My current favourite is Countdown.

    • Mikey

      Great review! I hope Party does become a future single.

    • obamarocks

      Everybody go to Youtube. Beyonce and Nicky Minaj are on a rermix of her leading single Run the World Girls together. This guy name Fyuchur produced it. Its Hot!! Both of their fans love it

    • @dapope9 I agree Dance For You is without a doubt the best track on the album(show casing her full range from the low to the top while creating a sultry R&B jam), to me the album was not as strong as people are making it out to be, I do agree though that it is some of her most raw and sincere work since her debut, I could have done without “Love On Top” “Run The World” “I Care” & “Rather Die Young” and replaced those with the deluxe tracks MINUS the “Run The World” remixes.

    • This is a very well-written review, Trent.

      However, how can you review the album and NOT mention “Rather Die Young,” which takes Bey in a strong R&B direction – something she has been lacking on her most recent projects. To me, that is clearly a standout track, not only on this album, but in her discography.

      “4” is a great album!

    • Great review! I’m so happy that you mentioned the song “I Care” as a standout track. I absolutely love that song but when I talk to other people about the album, they never mention it!