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Beyonce – 4

Tess Askew


She needs no form of introduction… Bootylicious Beyonce is back with her fourth album, aptly titled 4. The release was made following months of press build up centring around the volume of tracks Beyonce had recorded for the album, as well as talk of who she had recorded alongside and been produced by, with names including Tricky, Switch, Frank Ocean of Odd Future and Diplo. Next came the release of Run The World (Girls) sampling Major Lazer’s Pon De Floor, a smart move if Beyonce was planning to head in the ‘underground’ direction which was promised by the list of collaborators. On first listen, the single didn’t make much impact but, just as Crazy in Love had done all those years ago, quickly trickled into the psyche of listeners around the world and became almost as important as the afore mentioned track in a short space of time.

Given all this, the album takes a much more relaxed, ballad-led direction. The production is definitely tight, and the beats are still big, just much slower than what was maybe anticipated. Fast forward a couple of months and Beyonce headlines Glastonbury with a high-energy set full of greatest hits – both of her solo albums and of Destiny’s Child’s songs. A couple of tracks from 4 were showcased here too, including new single Best Thing I Never Had which sees Beyonce slow the pace but keep the attitude, in the same way that If I were A Boy did. The album was released the day after this performance and went straight in at number 1, a marked improvement of sales of her back catalogue was also reported.

The album starts with the slow ballad 1+1, which sounds quite dated and isn’t the big entry you would expect from such an anticipated album. I Care still stays at a slow pace but really takes the attitude up a level, with big heavy beats. Party features Andre 3000 from Outkast as well as Kanye West and Love On Top sounds like it could have been release in the early nineties. Countdown ups the pace and sass (which is needed) and is a stark reminder of why we all love Beyonce, with lyrics such as “ladies if you love your man, show him you the flyest.” End Of Time keeps the pace up and is the kind of track you would expect having heard Run the World (Girls).

We all know what talent Beyonce has, and it seems as she has really used this album to push that even further, her vocal stretch is impressive as ever. If you like your Beyonce all loved up, singing her heart out, then you will love this album. On the other hand if you like her in-your-face attitude then you might feel that this album is missing that little something.