‘Renaissance’ locations Beyoncé on the very heart of pop music proper now : NPR

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The escapist aesthetic of Renaissance is its personal sort of assertion — Beyoncé’s means of asserting the primacy of Black musical types all through American pop historical past.


That is FRESH AIR. The primary new Beyonce studio album in six years is right here and it is referred to as «Renaissance.» The pop star says the 16 tracks had been recorded in the course of the pandemic. Our rock critic, Ken Tucker, says whereas the music is dense with allusions to completely different eras of pop music, Beyonce’s performances have a lightness and agility that offers the venture an usually thrilling vitality. This is Ken’s evaluation.


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 stop 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’t sleep at evening.

KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: That is «Break My Soul,» the primary single from Beyonce’s new album, «Renaissance.» «Break My Soul» was launched a couple of weeks earlier than the album, and with its lyric about escaping the deadening drudgery of 9-5 work was broadly interpreted as Beyonce’s tackle the pandemic-inspired nice resignation. Little did we all know that what was to observe was an entire album in regards to the freedom of escapism.


BEYONCE: (Singing) I am certainly one of one. I am No. 1. I am the one one. Do not even waste your time attempting to compete with me. Nobody else on this world can suppose 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 – unhealthy – I am the bar. Alien celebrity. Whip, whip. I am too stylish for this world, eternally, I am that lady. Feed you diamonds and pearls, oh, child. I am too stylish…

TUCKER: That is «Alien Celebrity,» over whose clattering beats Beyonce applies a layer of her patented optimistic pondering, solely half joking that she’s, quote, «too stylish for this world.» «Alien Celebrity» provides you an thought of the way in which many songs listed here are constructed round rhythms and riffs that pulse and throb whereas Beyonce’s vocal soars atop the music. The most effective instance of that is the album’s longest observe referred to as «Virgo’s Groove,» as Beyonce croons over a languid, sneaky beat.


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. Gradual-mo popping out my home. I need it proper right here, proper now.

TUCKER: At 6-minutes-plus, «Virgo’s Groove» is directly 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 «Implausible Voyage.» Now hearken to the way in which Beyonce rolls it again additional to the ’70s and nods to Donna Summer time’s «I Really feel Love» on the tune «Summer time 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 provides the tune «Cuff it,» a thick slice of R&B that recollects 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.


BEYONCE: (Singing) Transfer, transfer, transfer. Yeah, you bought to maneuver, transfer. Something you do will probably be held in opposition to you. It’s a must to transfer, transfer, transfer. Skrrt (ph) off, make room. Stampede coming by means of. Massive 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. Hearken to the way in which she nearly buries this gorgeously fluid burst of phrasing towards the top of the tune «Pure Honey.» Lesser artists would construct an entire hit single round a verse that Beyonce simply tosses off.


BEYONCE: (Singing) You understand it is Friday evening, and I am able to drive. Throw me them keys. Child, let’s go. Friday evening and I am able to drive. Throw me them keys. Child, let’s go. We leap within the automotive, quarter tank of gasoline. World’s at struggle, low on money. Leap within the automotive, quarter tank of gasoline, world’s at struggle, 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, gentle swap.

TUCKER: Aside from the tune 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 by means of her earlier album, 2016’s «Lemonade.» However the escapist aesthetic of «Renaissance» is its personal sort of assertion. Beyonce’s means of asserting the primacy of Black musical types all through American pop historical past. And «Renaissance» locations Beyonce on the very heart of pop music proper now.

DAVIES: Rock critic Ken Tucker reviewed Beyonce’s new album referred to as «Renaissance.» On Monday’s present, actor Melanie Lynskey. She’s nominated for an Emmy for her main position within the Showtime sequence «Yellowjackets.» The present tells the story of a women soccer crew that went down in a aircraft crash in 1996 and needed to survive within the wilderness for over a yr. Lewinsky’s different movies embody «Heavenly Creatures,» «Up In The Air,» «The Informant» and «Do not Look Up.» I hope you may be a part of us.

FRESH AIR’s govt producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham, with further engineering help by Joyce Lieberman, Julian Herzfeld and Al Banks. For Terry Gross, I am Dave Davies.

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