Album ReviewsHot

Beyoncé – 4

on June 24, 2011, 8:00am
beyonce-4 A-
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Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement to make: Pop music has found its Alpha and Omega. Please ritualistically burn any remaining offerings from Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and whatever other false idols may be spinning on your iPod. There is only one true warrior-priestess worthy of your pitiful calls of devotion, only one with an album of pure pop excellence that will surely stand above all other female pop records for the remainder of 2011, if not longer, and that album is Beyoncé‘s 4.

Her fourth solo effort, 4 continues the Beyoncé tradition of making amazingly catchy, anthemic records with some of her best songs to date. Yes, even the glory of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” pales in comparison to the 12 tracks that comprise this LP. Influenced by everything from Fela Kuti Broadway musicals to the stylings of Teena Marie, 4 is a succinct and powerful demonstration of a woman at the top of her game, working with some of the industry’s best writers and producers (including Kanye West, Frank Ocean, The-Dream, Diplo, Babyface, and more). Thanks to all of that influence (and a bit of her own genius), she has created a mesmerizing ensemble of R&B ballads, club bangers, and throwback sensations, all filled to capacity with heaps of heart and straight-up soul.

Her last album, I Am…Sasha Fierce, was jam-packed with hits, including “Radio”, “If I Were a Boy”, and “Sweet Dreams”. But unlike that album, there’s something more substantial, an extra bit of pop oomph that makes these tracks seem less like overly shiny hunks of studio magic and more like solid, content-rich odes to love and life. Case in point: “Best Thing I Never Had” and “Rather Die Young”. The former is the super-powered female call to arms a la “Single Ladies”. It’s got a sort of wit and openness to it, a truly powerful moment of self-realization enhanced by Queen B’s vocal performance as wounded bird turned resilient lioness. “Rather Die Young”, on the flip side of that sentiment, is the most R&B-laden, old-’60s-doo-wop-referencing hit Mrs. HOV has ever spun. Sure, the “I need you more than life itself” thing has been done to death by Beyoncé over her entire career, but here it feels fresh, with a previously unreached level of  funk to it. Even on some of the weaker tracks, like say the girl power anthem “Run the World (Girls)” or the too-saccharine-for-its-own-good “I Miss You”, the album shines.

But the truly dazzling aspect of the record is what it does with minimal production and simplistic lyrics. “Party”, featuring production from Kanye West and a verse from Andre 3000, is as simple as a Beyoncé song gets: a low-key, synth-y beat paired with inspired vocals by Beyoncé and a killer, fluid verse by Mr. Benjamin (including the line “I got a homeboy named Butta and another homeboy, that nigga named Cheese/Fuck wit’ me baby, I make it milk ’til it drip down yo’ knees”).  But as far as demonstrating the power of a stripped-down Beyoncé and how devastating that can be, the winner is “Countdown”. The track, like so many pop offerings, is everywhere on the genre map, but it features a chorus of staggering simplicity and effectiveness: “My baby is a 10/We dressing to the nine/He pick me up at eight/Make me feel so lucky seven/He kiss me in his six/We be making love in five/Still the one I do this four/I’m trying to make a three/From that two/He still the one.” Any way you do that math, it’s a winner.

Between doing more of the same old goodness and boiling everything down to its most essential lethality, Beyoncé also makes room on the album for more grandiose tracks that would sound right at home in Broadway musicals, like the marching band-fueled funk/operatic space ballad “End of Time”. Both of these directions show that in the steel cage match that is modern-day female pop music, the champion from here on out is Beyoncé.

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19 comments

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Apolo
July 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm

i love this review…is excellent!!! and i love this album too…is amazing!!!

Eric Toribio
July 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I love every single song on this Album. It’s amazing!

Princequiz
July 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm

This album is mature and to me, appears to be a declaration of where Beyonce is at this point in her carrer. This woman has earned the right to make any type of song or music she pleases, and all critic, and negative reviews aside, that is just what she has done. “4” is a collection of where Beyonce is now musically. The album revisits sounds from the early 90’s which I really love as a longtime fan of Beyonce, and music in general.  Great Job Beyonce!

Srhead11
July 4, 2011 at 12:46 am

Fyi she did help right a lot of the songs on the album…..

zatzbatz
June 28, 2011 at 12:54 am

People say “_____ doesn’t even write their own” like that makes a difference. Who wrote it, who produced it, who worked on it, auto tuned it, whatever. None of that is important. The final product is all that matters, and this final product has Beyonce’s name on it. Thus it is her album.

Ebonydurrah
June 27, 2011 at 7:29 pm

be quiet you dont know wat yu talkin about

Jeremy Larson
June 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Hey Doc. Thanks for your comment. I think your point is being diffused somewhere between “low levels of intelligence” and “You’re a guy and you like Beyonce?? Are you gay??”  Namely, not sure if you want to stir that pot on this comment board or on this website.

Thank you for reading.

zatzbatz
June 27, 2011 at 6:59 am

I think the review is fine, I just wish you guys would abandon the completely arbitrary stars system that you have going on here.

Anonymous
June 26, 2011 at 7:02 am

My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a dartrichsingles young man Ronald who is the CEO of a MNC !they met via—–D a t e R i c h S i n g l e s.CoM——- ..it is the largest and best club for wealthy people and their admirers to chat online. …you don’t have to be rich there ,but you can meet one ,maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends !

Anonymous
June 26, 2011 at 1:57 am

You gotta be kidding….

Jswissiam
June 25, 2011 at 2:41 am

I agree with this review. There are no pop stars currently anywhere near her level musically. Lady Gaga may have a bigger persona at the moment, but Beyonce blows her out of the water musically. She came back this time with a better voice, and much less generic R&B influenced pop. Just listening to her voice on the song “I Care” proved it to me, no other pop singer could imitate that guitar towards the end of the song, note by note. Her voice really is an instrument.

Pepeluis2749
June 24, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Great Review. Beyonce’s great vocals are absolutely showcased in this album and I can’t wait for her to perform these songs live. This album sets her apart from modern pop artists. It shows that she doesn’t need a great beat, she just needs her voice to surpass the pop giants of today. 

Tony3k
June 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Best Review I’ve read thus far!

Swiseman11
June 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm

dear consequence of sound, this is sickening. why you even give this a review and don’t review others who WRITE THEIR OWN MUSIC with talent (Sam Roberts?) is beyond me. Please don’t become the next Rolling Stone. 4.5 stars for Beyonce makes one of my favourite sites look like a joke

malis
June 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm

oh stop being dramatic…the album is a great piece of work and the review says it all…get over it

Ddsa18
June 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Have you listened the album? Beyonce is one of the best pop singers right now, give credit where credit is due. The album ‘4’ is her best yet. 

Aaa15
June 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm

bitch shut up. get the stick out of your ass and write your own review.

MC Pressure
June 24, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I’m sorry that one of your favorite sites doesn’t box itself in, completely ignoring mainstream pop music and one of our time’s greatest pop stars, instead of focusing only on run-of-the-mill indie nonsense (who the fuck is Sam Roberts???). This is a solid album and I applaud CoS for telling it like it is. Keep on keeping on, Mr. Coplan!

Drew
June 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I’m wondering how being a pretentious douche is working out for Swiseman11. Why isn’t there room for a person – or a website, for that matter – to love Beyonce and Bon Iver, Jay-Z and your precious Sam Roberts (who may well be fantastic but that’s not the point), Lady Gaga and Arcade Fire? It’s these self-imposed limitations to cause people on BOTH sides of the indie/mainstream divide to miss out on some great music. Fuck that – I’m gonna listen to what I like, period, and if it’s a glittery pop-star singing about dancing, a rapper popping bottles in honor of a fabulous ass, or a lonesome folkie singing abstract-ass lyrics in the woods, that shouldn’t matter; what really matters is that I’m not listening to Ke$ha.

Swiseman11’s comment makes him look like a joke.

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