Beyoncé — Renaissance

In stark contrast to the evocative and personal Lemonade, Beyoncé’s Renaissance sheds the weighty emotions and genre-bending ethos of her 2016 effort, wades out onto the dance floor—and stays there. While stylistically confined in one way, Beyoncé touches upon almost every branch of the dance tree. Whether it be disco, house, electro, afrobeat, or any number of other flavors, the variety of rhythms and sounds, mixed with a heavy dose of interpolation and references, keep the one-hour set interesting.

The album captures the energy and vibe of a night at the club, and treats its songs more as its own shape shifting musical organism than a collection of individual tracks. Endings fluidly meld into beginnings as each transition changes from one beat to the next as seamlessly as any top-flight DJ might spin a session. Beyond the music, Beyoncé’s vocals are soaring and stunning and usual, and the lyrics mirror the created atmosphere, exuding seduction, sexuality, confidence, and fun.

Consciously artsy, especially for a dance album, Renaissance strikes an enjoyable balance between serious musical exploration and hedonistic pleasure without taking itself too seriously or succumbing to late-night sloppiness. Those hoping for another career-defining work in the mold of Lemonade will be disappointed, but the infectious and groovable music of Renaissance should win over any red-blooded human.

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