Album Review: Beyoncé – Lemonade (track by track)

Beyonce Lemonade

Beyoncé surprises again with release of brand new album
Oh no, she didn’t! Oh yes, she did, again! Remember when we were all shocked when Beyoncé suddenly without prior notice released her album BEYONCÉ online? Well, she repeated her trick. On Saturday night in the United states, her new album Lemonade suddenly appeared after a movie of the same name broadcasted at HBO, as a Tidal exclusive (sigh, of course!). Now, more than a week later, the album already reached nr. 1 in the US with every track charting in the Billboard Hot 100 and I turned my first thoughts into a full track by track album review!

01. Pray You Catch Me
The whole album starts surprisingly understated with the James Blake collaboration ‘Pray You Catch Me’. The dark but atmospheric tune immediately opens with the infidelity team that runs throughout the whole album. This is one of the most emotional vocal performances Beyoncé ever delivered and she shows she does not need big gestures for this. The subtle touches in her voice and the production make this a glorious album opener.

02. Hold Up
‘Hold Up’ is a laidback and summery Diplo production and the breezy sound and melody creates a strong contrast with the lyrics about being cheated on. “What’s worse, being jealous or crazy? Or like being walked all over lately? I’d rather be crazy”, she states. This could work well as a single if Bey is still interested in promoting an album in that manner, that is. Brilliant video by the way. Frustration has never looked that good on anyone!

03. Don’t Hurt Yourself (feat. Jack White)
Wow, we haven’t heard Beyoncé this aggressive before, not even on ‘Ring The Alarm’. She goes full on rock on this track, that was written and produced in collaboration with Jack White. It is one clear message to Jay Z: “If you try this shit again, you’ll lose your wife!” And that is not even close to the most explicit part of the lyrics. Ouch!

04. Sorry
Beyoncé is not letting the attitude go anytime soon as proven by ‘Sorry’, where she underlines she is not sorry at all, while talking about middle fingers and telling someone to suck her balls (yes, really). She combines the feisty parts with some raw emotion where she tells her husband she will leave and live a good life with her kid. This hiphop production, a collaboration with Wynter Gordon, is absolutely one of the highlights of the record.

05. 6Inch (feat. The Weeknd)
One might have expected a potential world wide smash hit when The Weeknd and Beyoncé collaborated, but that is not what ‘6Inch’ is. The tune is not very radiofriendly or catchy, but the moody production creeps up on you with every listen. The lyrics are quite the statement about empowering and respecting women, regardless of what kind of job they are doing. 

06. Daddy Lessons
Beyoncé proves her versatility once again on ‘Daddy Lessons’ where she surprisingly explores an acoustic country style and she sounds amazing do it. It swings! The lyrics are all about her relationship to her dad, but also explores a subtle link to both his infidelity to her mother and Jay Z’s cheating. Once again her collaboration with Wynter Gordon turns out to be one of the best moments of the album.

07. Love Drought
In the Lemonade movie, this is the track where Beyoncé’s emotions switch towards forgiveness. She talks about relation problems, but the synth driven tune is working towards solutions. “You and me could make it rain now, you and me will stop this love drought”, she tells her lover in a higher pitch. One more subtle and understated production, which once again underlines that this album is not about big and bold, but finds perfection in details and raw emotion.

08. Sandcastles
Raw and pure emotion is something we get in bucketloads on piano ballad ‘Sandcastles’. This is definitely not a polished one. In the climax, Beyoncé’s voice sounds more honest than ever and she does not strive for the flawless notes, but shows vocal imperfections to portray the emotions of the lyrics. At the same time you hear new found hope in her delivery. Powerful!

09. Forward (feat. James Blake)
‘Forward’, the collaboration with James Blake, only lasts for 1 minute and 19 seconds, but it works as an interlude, sort of thing.

10. Freedom (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
‘Freedom’ featuring a rap by Kendrick Lamar is a tune and a half! That chorus might be the best one on the record and this could definitely work as a daring single. This is an anthem for and about black women and works as a climax to both the album and the movie. The themes that run throughout the whole work get more explicit here and Beyoncé is clear about one thing: “Hey! I’ma keep running, cause a winner don’t quit on themselves!”

11. All Night
‘All Night’ is the perfect album closer (if it wasn’t for ‘Formation being put as 12th track) with an ethereal sound and a soaring chorus with some seriously beautiful vocals. Lyrically it is a deep love song that deals with pain of the past, but also shows hope for the future. Basically, she tells Jay Z he needs to make a whole lot of love to her to make up for the tough times they went through. You tell him, girl!

12. Formation
The only single that was released prior to this album was the statement ‘Formation’, which she performed at Coldplay’s halftime show during the Superbowl. The hard and feisty urban banger wasn’t all that radiofriendly, but together with that stunning video, it was quite a moment.

Beyoncé describes the album as “a conceptual project based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing.” Striking about this record is how easily Beyoncé seems to blend genres and still make it sound like a cohesive body of work. We move from hip hop, to country and from rock back to piano ballads and it all works. The story, both sonically and visually, is a journey through a whole lot of emotions and every single part convinces. Needless to say that the Lemonade release is already quite a moment and rightfully so, as it is another quality album from the Queen!

You can listen to the full record on Tidal.

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