Beyoncé - 4
Fun, but new ground remains unbroken
Spectacular and summer-defining festival appearances notwithstanding, Beyoncé Knowles’ albums have so far failed to entirely capitalise on her unerring ability to work a solid gold, 24-carat pop classic when she’s given one (see: ‘Crazy in Love’, ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)’). Although this is a superbly produced and supremely confident collection of rich, modern soul ballads, it doesn’t quite buck that trend.
She’s devastating with the right power-lyric in the right place (‘1+1’s ‘make love to me-hee’; ‘Rather Die Young’s affecting ‘rather die young than live my life without you’), but the closest she gets to pop history here is the dutty, carnivalesque sub-MIAisms of ‘Countdown’ and ‘Run the World (Girls)’. Fun, but new ground remains unbroken.