Beyonce – 4: Album Review
July 4, 2011 § 8 Comments
Beyoncé, one of the music industry’s hardest working entertainers, decided to take a year off after her 2009 world tour. When she announced that she was back in the studio working on a new record, ears all around the globe perked up. On June 28th 2011, 4 was released to a swelling amount of anticipation. The set-up of the album mimics 2008’s I Am…Sasha Fierce, as it begins with heavy ballads and ends with club-ready bangers. But what separates 4 from Beyoncé’s prior release is her evident growth and comfortability with herself as an artist, wife, and individual.
The album opens with a slow ballad (1+1), something that artists usually stray away from as it tends to drain the rest of the record. I tend to agree with this testament. While I don’t enjoy the irky high-pitched accents, I appreciate Beyoncé’s vocals in the song. They are clear and ripple with a heartfelt emotion that reflects the song’s loving lyrics.
Party, the only track that has feature artists (Andre 3000 & Kanye West) is just great! I’m not just saying this because I’m a crazy Kanye West fan, but the song is just fun & makes you feel good. The production reminds me of being at a July family cook-out in the early 90’s; who wouldn’t want to relive a memory like that? 4 flaunts its genre-bending capabilities with another track, Rather Die Young, a ballad that will have you reminiscing about Motown soul.
You ever realize there’s always that one stand-out track off any record that makes you go, “OOOH!!” End of Time (produced by some of the MASTERS, The-Dream, Diplo & Switch) does just that. I cannot express enough how captivating, joyous, and stunning this Off The Wall-esque track is. From the opening marching band-inspired rhythm to Beyoncé’s flawless vocal layering, the song has the fire that was missing in aspects of the music industry.
4 does have its flaws, the obvious one being Run The World (Girls). It is painfully out-of-place on the record, and the worst decision was to have it close the album. I’ve expressed my feelings about this song already, so I won’t waste my time. I Miss You, another ballad on the album, is very draining to listen to. The bubbly production is great, but the overall sound is over-dramatized and over-thought.
With 4, it is clear that Beyoncé was not striving to create a record with Top 40 hit singles. Instead, she focused on creating mature, unique, and downright good music. 2011 is the year of roboticized, factory-like Pop music (if you follow this blog you know I actually enjoy a majority of it); I find Beyoncé’s take on this so incredibly refreshing. I’ve heard various comments about 4, so to say I was eager to listen to the album is an understatement.
If you put 4 in the context of the music industry today, then it is Beyoncé’s weakest album to date. But if you take it for what it is, you’ll realize that it is meant to be cherished music for years to come. While the album’s sound is not quite ready to become a chart topper (& this may change), the effort that Beyoncé put into this record is commendable. If you appreciate quality music, humility, and raw artistry, then 4 is just for you.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Songs on Repeat
End of Time
Dance For You (Deluxe Edition)
Songs to Skip
Run The World (Girls)
I Miss You
Love on Top
What Are Your Thoughts on 4?