What The Critics Are Saying About ‘4’ -Beyonce
Beyonce has complete world domination at this point in time and with her album sales predicted to reach above 300,000 in the first week , people are talking. With the initial release of “Run The World (Girls)”, reviews were at the bottom of the barrel. The beat was too old for some; the lyrics not catchy enough. That was until she came out with the video and began giving energy driven performances to the song. Let’s weigh in on what the critics think about Beyonce’s 4 as a whole.
She spends the rest of the album fighting to make her words sound more believable. But with “I Miss You,” it’s hard to know which Beyonce to trust. Over an airy, puttering beat, she double-tracks her apologies to an absent lover: One Beyonce coos softly in our ear while the other wails for our attention from a distance. “The words don’t ever seem to come out right,” the battling Beyonces sing. “But I still mean ’em.” Beyonce’s “4” won’t go down in the books like that. It smacks of a once-great blockbuster movie franchise sadly spinning its wheels.
Compared with Beyoncé’s three previous albums, which arrived on a wave of hit singles, the release of 4 seems relatively quiet. Neither lead single “Run the World (Girls)” nor “Best Thing I Never Had” has caught fire on the charts. But after Fierce’s duality, Beyoncé does not seem to need to make a cutting-edge statement. This time, she’s content to stay in her comfort zone.
Beyoncé has made a career of setting trends, and on 4, she leaves fashionable production styles behind. There’s no Eurodisco thump; live instruments take the place of digital beats on many tracks. Half the songs are ballads, but all kinds of sounds filter through the mix – vintage soul, hard rock, reggae, adult contemporary. Beyoncé calls Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti a big inspiration (Jay-Z is co-producing the Fela! musical), which may explain the bristling brass arrangements in “Countdown,” a dancehall-style corker, and in “End of Time,” whose martial beat drives home a command: “Say you’ll never let me go!”
Less successful are Kanye West and Andre 3000’s interruptions (“You got the swag sauce / You drip the swagu,” leers Kanye – oh dear) on “Party’s” slick 80s soul, while the overdone glitz of “Rather Die Young” drags. The rest of 4, though, sparks. Beyoncé slips from flirty to fragile to fabulous, and is in terrific voice throughout, reminding us that when she opens up there’s no-one else in the game.
Unsurprisingly, Beyoncé is at her best when she sounds like no one but herself. She takes her trusty freakum dress out of mothballs for the marching-band funk of ”Countdown,” which includes such joy-inducing non-lyrics as ”Me and my boof, and my boof boof riding.” On ”Run the World (Girls),” the first single off the disc, she turns cheesy postfeminism into a martial foot-stomper that crackles like a burst of pirate-radio agitpop.
Such mixed reviews; we’ll just have to see how first week sales go!