Beyoncé – Renaissance
The artist’s departure from 2016’s Lemonade on this latest project could not be more marked – from gentle-paced introspection, meandering journeys through love turned into grief turned into love again and the sustained political urgency of immediate-anthem Formation, Beyoncé has re-centred her focus on music that makes you want to dance – and, with her vast portfolio of talent already established, Renaissance reminds us all she can do fun better than most.
Lead single Break My Soul has been sending shockwaves since its release, delivering expertly mixed dance samples with just the right hint of nostalgia and a typically motivating lyrical hook. Drawing influences across decades of Black American music and art, the record shines a celebratory light on ballroom music (Alien Superstar), features legendary performers including Nile Rodgers – lending his magic to Cuff It – and Grace Jones (Move) and even manages to centre an allusion to Maya Angelou’s epic Still I Rise across its many references to diamonds, yachts and other symbols of success. With Renaissance, as across the singer’s catalogue, femininity is powerful, creative, expansive; and self-belief, of course, is non-negotiable – “Don’t even waste your time trying to compete with me”, Beyoncé warns, as if we needed reminding, “No one else in this world can think like me”. Her talent is to transform these messages into mantras for her listener, and it’s impossible to emerge from the appropriately titled Beam-featuring Energy or (self-)love song Church Girl without taking a little of that confidence with you.
The album doesn’t require time, focus or multiple plays to make its impact: commencing with entrancing opener I’m That Girl, the record provides irresistible, uninterrupted dance rhythms and an energy that just cannot falter. Album closers Pure/Honey and Summer Renaissance, especially, are Beyoncé at her crowd-enchanting, genre-blending best, and, as with every project she’s released for years, Renaissance effortlessly redefines what pop music can be, with reverberations to be felt – no doubt, and no exaggeration – across time, across space, across the world.
Renaissance is released on 29th July 2022. For further information or to order the album visit Beyoncé’s website here.
Watch the video for the single I’m That Girl here: