Even though she probably wasn’t the first one to do it, it doesn’t really matter, Beyonce started the surprise album trend. In late 2014 the Bey surprised the world with a self titled LP paired with a music video for every song. Since then artists such as Drake and Kid Cudi have released records in such a manner. With Lemonade, however, the Queen brings us a completely different surprise. Throughout the album she heavily alludes to her knowing that her husband, Jay Z, cheated on her. Wow.
Throughout the record she goes from wanting to tell him she knows in the haunting opener Pray You Catch Me, all the way to forgiveness in All Night. All the while being the confident, successful, black woman that she is. With this combination of her attitude and the running theme of betrayal, the album keeps a thematic consistency while it plays around with different styles.
Having every song take a life of its own, yet having them all involve this troublesome relationship, is a risk that pays off for the majority of the record. When it works, it works really well. For example, she teams up with Jack White for the blues and rock inspired Don’t Hurt Yourself. Where Bey goes in with a lot of aggression and grit towards her partner’s recent behavior. Another instance of this is her collaboration with Kendrick near the back end of the album, Freedom. This Black anthem dedicated to women’s rights and voice has Bey and Kdot bringing a new level of energetic passion towards the subject in a collaboration that’ll have fans of both artists wanting more.
However this thematic consistency can work against the album at times. Like with the songs Formation and 6 Inch. Formation ends off the album with awesome banger that shows off how badass and fierce Beyonce is. 6 Inch is a more toned down song, with a wasted Weeknd feature, about a badass chick that doesn’t have the personality or uniqueness of Formation.
All in all, Beyonce has delivered us a shocking, layered, and emotional record. The different styles brought to the table give the listener a very replay worthy experience, even though some songs feel like they serve all too similar purposes.
*This review pertains to the album only, not the short film that accompanied it.
Listen if you like: Miguel, The Weeknd, FKA Twigs
Highlights: Pray You Catch Me, Don’t Hurt Yourself, Freedom, Formation
Lowlights: 6 Inch, Sorry