Tuesday, June 21, 2016

serving lemonade


Here’s the thing. I’m not a critic, I’m not a professional. So this review will be like Beyonce’s album. (too) personal. I started listening to the album while driving home from university and I had an hour and forty-five minutes to kill on the open road, trying to avoid driving into a biker or a jogger or a rollerblader. Ugh, sports. And I am a reluctantly emotional being so this review will be full of emotions and feelings and it will not feature technical terms. Let's get through this.

In Love drought Beyonce asks the question: If I wasn't me, would you still feel me? And indeed, if we took out Beyonce’s crazy cult like following would we still be “feeling” this album. If we put aside wanting to immediately google “the elevator video” to see the exact moment that Beyonce started writing this album in her head. If we put aside our overwhelming need to find out who is “Becky with the good hair” and why in the name of God would Jay Z ever cheat on Beyonce and her amazing-I-will-give-all-of-my-money-and-my-firstborn legs. If we put aside the fact that she made a goddamn movie to go with the album. To sum up my crazy rantings: if it wasn’t Beyonce would we think that the album is good?

For me the short answer is yes. The long answer is yes and no. The even longer answer is I don’t know.

The album is the emotional journey of a person and while driving I went through all of the stages with her. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, BEYONCE. The last one is something only she ever achieves, but one can try, right. The whole thing is versatile and not one song makes you feel like you’ve already heard it. For me this album is also a rare find because I can listen to the whole thing without skipping a song. However, some of the songs are still stronger than others. Here is the track-by-track.

Pray you catch me
Makes you feel: like breathing heavy; like forests during sunrises; like never wanting a significant other ever.

Pray you catch me made me think that I was not going to like this album. Even though Beyonce’s vocals are beautiful and this song showcases them well, the song itself felt like not enough. That being said, once you have listened to the whole album, the first track makes sense and it feels like it needs to be there. It starts off the album softly and easily like easing yourself into a hot bath. The first 33 seconds of the song actually do sound like Bey was getting into a really hot bath. But in a really musical and creative way that only she can pull off.

Hold up
Makes you feel: like you’re better than you actually are; like Elizabeth I – kind of crazy but badass.

Oh, we in the bath now. No more easing into it. And the water is freezing. Beyonce gets real personal and I love it.  The song features a tweet by Ezra Koening a song by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Beyonce serving some truth. What more could a person with no personal life of one’s own ask for?

Don’t hurt yourself
Makes you feel: like you could pull off wearing leather; like having a significant other just so you could tell them to get their shit together and treat you better; like cursing a lot; like walking into a club like what up I’ve got a big cock.

For some reason I decided that this was the song to introduce Beyonce’s new album to my father. It was probably the Jack White thing, I thought that a forty-something man might connect with him on the track? My motives aside, I played him the song and he said that it sounds like Jack White. Before he started singing. He was right in a way, the track doesn’t have that Beyonce-esque sound and feel that some of her other works but she fits in well with the older kids. Zeppelin and White that is.

Makes you feel: like getting pissed (both drunk and mad apply); like not caring about anything; like caring A LOT.

This song is not one of my favourites on the album even though it does have a quality to it which I would call “jammy”. I can just really picture some 14-year-olds failing their maths test and breaking up with their boyfriends of two months and posting an instagram with the caption that reads “middle fingers up” or “I ain’t sorry” and the image is too vivid for me to enjoy the song however jammy it might be.

6 inch ft. The Weekend
Makes you feel: again, like you could pull off wearing leather; like wearing 6 inch heels (regardless of gender I have found); like being a working girl is not that bad; again, like walking into a club like what up I’ve got a big cock; like smoking a cigarette that’s in a cigarette holder.

This is one of the less personal songs on the album and has already become an anthem for women who earn their own goddamn money. The song has a very cool ominous vibe that makes you think of smoky bars and slow motion movement. The Weekend fits the track like a glove.

Daddy lessons   
Makes you feel: glad that Beyonce’s dad is not your dad; like you understand Beyonce a little better now; like you might actually get into county music; like you could pull off wearing denim on denim on denim.

Beyonce does country! Yes, that’s right. There’s nothing like acoustic guitars and trumpets and the sounds of (older?) men hollering gibberish to make you feel like you’re in a southern state of the USA. Daddy lessons also gives a slight insight into Beyonce’s childhood. I’m assuming. And if my assumptions are right then she did not have it too easy. She was made into a diamond by sheer pressure from the people around her. Again, I’m assuming.

Love drought
Makes you feel: like the whole significant other thing might not be all it’s cracked up to be; like being really needy and really not needy at the same time; like you’re stuck in honey.

Love drought is feathery and airy but really draggy and heavy at the same time. That’s all I’ve got.

Makes you feel: not good; sad; like taking a bath.

This song is one that everyone who has never had a terrible breakup can’t really relate to. I know that the other songs are also about love but with great willpower one could imagine that they apply to other life problems such as: unstable mental health, unstable bank balance, unstable weight gain, unstable relationship between their love for ice-cream and their lactose intolerance. That sort of thing. The song feels raw and emotional and unedited and real but what takes away from it is the fact that we know it’s not that real and unedited.

Forward ft. James Blake
Makes you feel: not much; like maybe looking up James Blake.

Forward a minute 20 second track that acts as the part in a mental journey when one decides to let go. It’s the part where Beyonce gets out of the bath. She is moving forward. James Blake is singing for the most part and it sounds…. nice? Sad? Weepy? Powerful? All of them, I guess.

Freedom ft. Kendrick Lamar
Makes you feel: your white privilege; like having Beyonce sing to you before every exam; powerful; like you might get a tattoo and not regret it; like wearing only black clothes for the rest of your life.

Freedom is the song Beyonce makes after she gets out of her bath of her own tears because she realises that people are looking up to her and she has the power to speak up on social issues. This song is becoming the anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement and not without reason. Beyonce’s powerful vocals and Kendrick Lamar’s rap verse make the song catchy without being annoying, beautiful without being sappy, powerful without being crude.

All night
Makes you feel: like maybe you do want the whole significant other thing; good but confused.

The song has a good baseline, upbeat tune, good lyrics, great vocals, cool brass instruments. Yes.

Makes you feel: like you just heard the essence of Beyonce in a song; like getting in formation; like slaying.

This song is very much Beyonce-esque. It has confidence, it boosts one’s mood, it makes one feel more powerful, it has politics in it, it has something personal and it has vocals. Beyonce.

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