By Socratis Santik Oglou,
This artist needs no introduction. The last official Beyoncé solo release album was six years ago, with her great visual album titled Lemonade which made history. But, through these years, Bey released her full-length collaboration with her spouse, Jay-Z, the album EVERYTHING IS LOVE, and her 2019 The Gift album as a soundtrack for Disney’s remake of the movie The Lion King. Because of the lengthy wait for her seventh studio album, Renaissance, which alludes to both Beyoncé’s homecoming and society’s post-pandemic era renewal, has several implications and surprises.
Renaissance is a great album for a “hot girl summer” since it mostly goes on a much more eclectic aesthetic, unlike her previous works. Fast-paced bounce beats that blend with glitzy disco vibes, soulful vocals, Afrobeats, swirling trap, swaggering house, and even gritty, frequently can be found altogether within the course of one song.
Rhythm switches are all over the album, with a great flow. “BREAK MY SOUL”, the album’s lead single, was a raucous and ecstatic example of a 90s disco house, but it also served as a great introduction to what was to follow. The single “ENERGY” begins in the same funky bass realm as the previous “CUFF IT”. The harsh self-assurance of “PURE/HONEY”, a two-for-one song, gives into precise vogue beats and light, melodic pop vocal harmonies.
Track 1: “I’M THAT GIRL”
Starting this album with a great intro sets the tone for the rest of the album. The “baddie Bey” is back and she makes it obvious in this song by constantly repeating “I’m that girl…”. Her authentic Texan drawl comes first, then the beat, and then we hear that melodious voice for the first time.
Track 2: “COZY”
This one is about loving yourself, who you are, and living your life while feeling comfortable in your skin. The song starts with an almost techno beat only to carry on a chill rhythm, while Beyoncé’s rich vocals really give the song a special ring to it. Personally, her way of singing in this song reminds me of the way she used to sing in her old songs.
Track 3: “ALIEN SUPERSTAR”
This is probably one of my favorite songs on the album and I think lots will love it too. There is almost a techno vibe to this song but, shortly after her melodic vocals kick in and it sounds belissimo. ALIEN SUPERSTAR is definitely one of the most experimental songs that Beyoncé has ever made. The ending of the song too, with these harmonies, captivates even the most hesitant listeners.
Track 4: “CUFF IT”
In this one, there is a real disco beat influence. It is the flirtiest song on the album. Someone could say that it is like the next version of the song “Blow” from her self-titled album Beyoncé. A really nice beat and flow, keep you going through the song, while it blends perfectly with the beginning of track 5.
Track 5: “ENERGY”
In this case, the title says it all. The song has a really nice beat and flows, setting the energy. It has some good vibes on it, reflecting Beyoncé’s mood. I think that this one is one of the songs with the most influence from old Afro beats. And like “CUFF IT”, this one blends perfectly too to the next song on the line.
Track 6: “BREAK MY SOUL”
The lead single of the album, the first one to be released, is definitely one of the greatest songs of the album, and definitely a no-skip one. With a vibe that takes us to the club, a revolving dancefloor for everyone to dance on. This song is proof of Beyoncé’s ability to stay on top these days, and still produce songs of excellence.
Track 7: “CHURCH GIRL”
In reality, this song is not what someone could expect from the title. With an experimental beat too, in this song, in other ways, Bey is telling us that someone could be a “devilish” yet church girl.
Track 8: “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA”
This is a vibe. I think that this is the calmest and most chill song on the album. Soulful, soft, rich vocals, flirty, that keeps you going, it feels like an old soul song, one that nowadays you could listen to while you are getting dressed to attend a fancy dinner, or while you chill out in a bubbly bathtub.
Track 9: “VIRGO’S GROOVE”
Following the vibe that the previous song set, this one is still soulful, chill, and old-school. I feel like this song is dedicated to Mr. Carter. Rich, melodic vocals throughout the song, with the singer repeating in a full of high riffs and runs, showcasing her vocal ability too, that Mr. Carter is the love of her life.
Track 10: “MOVE”
I feel like this song is not one of the album’s highs, but it is quite unique. Bey sings to us “me and my girlfriends came out to play…” almost like calling us to join them and dance along the Renaissance vibe. It also includes Grace Jones, a legend herself.
Track 11: “HEATED”
Maybe the “angriest” one in the album, with a fast beat, some kind influenced from the Afro beats, with a contemporary twist, that makes you dance to it.
Track 12: “THIQUE”
“THIQUE” has a really nice beat, really experimental for Beyoncé’s career too. It is like a cousin of her previous song “Bootylicious”. A sexy one, making you instantly love your body.
Track 13: “ALL UP IN YOUR MIND”
With techno influences and rich in deep bass, has great flow too. This song starts easy, but in the midst of it, goes on a more fast passed mode, whereas the ending is kinda sharp.
Track 14: “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM”
While with the first thought after reading the title, I thought it was going to be a commentary on society. But it ends up being a fast-paced hype beat song. I think that this one has a bit of a more futuristic sound in it. As always, Beyoncé’s vocals come through in this track too.
Track 15: “PURE/HONEY”
This track is a two-for-one song. It is two songs. PURE is the first one, that has clearly a vogue beat to it, paying homage to the Afro-Latinx vogue culture. With this beat, no one can resist dancing on the dancefloor. And shortly after that, it blends with HONEY. This one is way more soul-influenced, with melodic vocals, and really nice lyrics too.
Track 16: “SUMMER RENAISSANCE”
Beyoncé made great work closing this album. A closing anthem that takes you back to the old disco days. She sampled the iconic “I Feel Love” by the great singer Donna Summer while combining this iconic song with the whole Renaissance vibe, concluding to a masterpiece. Her vocals are beautiful and rich, with harmonies that melt you.
Concluding, this is only Act I of a confirmed trilogy that Beyoncé is preparing for us. After the great beat and music set produced, it also serves as a reminder of how uncommon it is to see this highly disciplined artist simply enjoying herself without regard to what others would anticipate. It is a celebration of living abundantly and outside of others’ expectations. Her whole attitude of freedom is clear throughout the album. Renaissance is simply another great work of art in the music industry and Beyoncé’s career too.
- Beyoncé: Renaissance review – joyous soundtrack to a hot girl summer, theguardian.com, Available here
- Beyoncé Hits a Seductive Sweet Spot on ‘Renaissance’, rollingstone.com, Available here