What Critics Are Saying About Beyonce's New Album

She's 'having fun on her own terms,' one writes of album 'Renaissance'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2022 12:24 PM CDT
Beyonce Delivers the 'Best Dance Album of 2022'
Beyonce appears at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on March 14, 2021.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

The single "Break My Soul" tells us "Bey is back." And now it's official. Renaissance, Beyonce's first solo album release since 2016's Lemonade, dropped Friday after leaking a few days earlier. "My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom," the singer says in a statement. "I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are." Here's what critics are saying:

  • It's "a welcome and even refreshing progression for a superstar who consistently rewrites the rulebooks," writes Nicholas Hautman at Page Six. "Across a whopping 16 tracks, Beyoncé's caramel voice is amplified by pulsating cadences that effortlessly fuse house music with Afrobeats to make up the best dance album of 2022." A warning: Bey is "absolutely filthy" on the album, which "makes 'Bootylicious' sound like the Barney theme song," Hautman writes.

  • "Renaissance, tipped for weeks as Bey's most overt dip yet into club music, delivers on every inch of that promise," writes August Brown at the Los Angeles Times. It’s also "the sexiest history lesson of the year." It "pulls out strains of '70s disco, '80s synth-pop and freestyle, '90s deep house" while "tracing out a Black and queer tradition of nightclub rebellion and exaltation that cuts across genre and era," Brown writes. (Bey notes a gay family member was "the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album.")
  • "Sometimes she's sultry, other times explicitly raunchy … She is completely unfettered," writes Melissa Ruggieri at USA Today. The result is "a danceteria devoted to hedonism, sex and most importantly, self-worth." The songs flow together "with the precision of an old-school club DJ," Ruggieri writes. And the singer's "tremendous vocals" are on display in "Plastic Off the Sofa," "a straight-up love song that finds Beyonce playing cute."

  • She's a "siren luring us to the dancefloor" and into "eclectic, adventurous territory," writes Tara Joshi at the Guardian, noting the track "Church Girl" glides "from gilded gospel to thot rap." Though it's not her best full-length album, "her sense of freedom throughout is palpable, and an infectious spur to action." Indeed, there's a sense that "this hyper-disciplined artist" is "refusing the mantle that culture has placed on her as a perfectionist and spokesperson" and "simply having fun on her own terms."
Prepare for more. In the statement, Beyonce says this is act one of a three-act project "recorded over three years during the pandemic"—"a time I found to be the most creative." (More album review stories.)

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