The escapist aesthetic of Renaissance is its personal type of assertion — Beyoncé’s means of asserting the primacy of Black musical kinds 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 known as “Renaissance.” The pop star says the 16 tracks have 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 undertaking an usually thrilling power. Here is Ken’s evaluation.
(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 give up my job. I am gonna discover new drive. Rattling, they work me so rattling laborious. Work by 9, then off previous 5. And so they work my nerves. That is why I can not sleep at night time.
KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: That is “Break My Soul,” the primary single from Beyonce’s new album, “Renaissance.” “Break My Soul” was launched a number of 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 an entire album concerning 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 making an attempt to compete with me. Nobody else on this world can assume like me. I am twisted. I am going to contradict it. Preserve 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 celebrity. Whip, whip. I am too stylish for this world, endlessly, I am that woman. Feed you diamonds and pearls, oh, child. I am too stylish…
TUCKER: That is “Alien Famous person,” over whose clattering beats Beyonce applies a layer of her patented constructive pondering, solely half joking that she’s, quote, “too stylish for this world.” “Alien Famous person” offers you an thought of the way in which many songs listed below 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 known 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 need it proper right here, proper now. Cuddled up on the sofa. Motorboat, child, spin round. Sluggish-mo popping out my home. I need it proper right here, proper now.
TUCKER: At 6-minutes-plus, “Virgo’s Groove” is without delay very modern and really Nineteen 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 way in which Beyonce rolls it again additional to the ’70s and nods to Donna Summer season’s “I Really feel Love” on the music “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 music “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 can be held towards you. It’s important to transfer, transfer, transfer. Skrrt (ph) off, make room. Stampede coming via. 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 way in which Beyonce delivers them so casually. Take heed to the way in which she nearly buries this gorgeously fluid burst of phrasing towards the top of the music “Pure Honey.” Lesser artists would construct an entire hit single round a verse that Beyonce simply tosses off.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PURE HONEY”)
BEYONCE: (Singing) You understand it is Friday night time, and I am able to drive. Throw me them keys. Child, let’s go. Friday night time and I am able to drive. Throw me them keys. Child, let’s go. We soar within the automobile, quarter tank of fuel. World’s at battle, low on money. Leap within the automobile, quarter tank of fuel, world’s at battle, 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 change.
TUCKER: Aside from the music titled “America Has A Downside” and a fleeting reference to the electoral defeat of Donald Trump, there’s little of the social commentary that was laced via 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 kinds 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 known as “Renaissance.” On Monday’s present, actor Melanie Lynskey. She’s nominated for an Emmy for her main position within the Showtime collection “Yellowjackets.” The present tells the story of a ladies soccer staff 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 extra engineering help by Joyce Lieberman, Julian Herzfeld and Al Banks. For Terry Gross, I am Dave Davies.
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