Readers review Beyoncé’s Renaissance: Euphoric and Fresh, or Paint by Numbers? | Beyonce

“This is a love letter to the LGBTQ+ community”

I think this is my favorite Beyoncé album. This is a love letter to the LGBTQ+ community, the dance floor and the ballroom, and it amazes me in the best possible way. You can hear the excitement and joy in her voice; this is the double serotonin we need right now. References and samples are featured throughout – some are very niche, which only makes it more special. I never thought I’d hear a sample of the late drag actor Moi Renee in a Beyoncé song, and Pure/Honey is based on her song Miss Honey. For this reason, this is probably my favorite song on this album. It was very exciting to hear details like this included, and the underground part went mainstream. Tomb, 22, designer, Merseyside

Renaissance album cover

“It’s so fun and playful”

I’ve always been a fan of Beyoncé because my partner gave me a slow-down, burnt DVD of Single Ladies (with the ring on) so we could learn to dance in 2009. I really became a huge fan of her album 4 (can’t claim Beyhive level though). In the Renaissance, I love that the crazy aunt Beyoncé (I almost fell off my chair during “tig ol’ bitties”) she gave us for over an hour was always there, but had never been there before. I love that it brings together the hippest elements from her back catalogue and mixes them with legendary dance tunes. It’s hard to compete with her self-titled album and Lemonade, and it doesn’t have the same emotional suckers, but who needs to go through the racket with every album? It’s so funny – she’s doing new things with her voice; the songs are looser and longer. After listening to a few, my favorite track is Cozy – it’s fresh and cool, and it sounds like someone is so at ease in their skin. James, 32, Melbourne

“Lemonade is a funnier record”

Lemonade is a more interesting record than the Renaissance. This is the first time in years that I feel that Beyonce has run out of songs to sing. Renaissance doesn’t sound like it came from a real place. There’s no emotion, and as far as lyrics go, it’s an album drawn by the numbers. Parts of the album sound like a good girl trying to go bad to fit in with the crowd. Lemonade is an angry album, and it has a lot to say, but Renaissance is repetitive and, frankly, too hard. Anonymous, Manchester

A close-up of Beyonce.
“Beyoncé took us to the club.” Photo: Mason Poole

“In a world so dark and ambiguous, we need to escape”

The Renaissance is a thrilling ride from start to finish. After her long hiatus from solo work, I’m not sure how Beyoncé will rise above her previous albums. But in a world so dark and ambiguous, we don’t need Lemonade’s blunt, stark political message, but escape! In Renaissance Part One, Beyonce takes us to the club. Primarily influenced by the 70s/80s disco and New York/Chicago ballroom scenes – genres and spaces created by the black queer community – this is the most experimental Beyoncé we’ve heard so far. This album is like a DJ in an ’80s New York underground dance. It’s a love letter to her black queer fans to relax, have fun and learn how to find joy even when the whole world feels very dark. This is a joyous album. Miles, 24, London

“A strange collection of odes to the past”

It would be great if her album reflected more of how much we have changed as a society since the pandemic. The Lemonade did a stellar job of capturing the zeitgeist when it was released. Is the Renaissance doing the same thing today? It seems more like a bizarre collection of odes to the past – Ibiza here, Beyoncé herself there. Personally, I’d rather see an album that has more layers of meaning than short-lived, self-deprecating hedonism. It seems like an effort by the artist to restore it to its former glory, under the guise of “I don’t care about perfection” – I’m not sure I’ll buy it. Anna, London

“Her voice sounded more mature”

Beyoncé’s first solo album in six years is a bold take on EDM and new disco (Cuff it, Virgo’s Groove). With alternating breaths and layered harmonies, the album seems to revolve around seducing and bragging about her success in the music industry — and let’s face it, it’s well deserved. She is very keen to include references (samples, interpolations) for her album inspiration, including Robin S and Donna Summer. Her voice also sounds more mature and deeper, which isn’t a bad thing either. The high-pitched melismas are still there, but Beyoncé seems happy to explore her mids and lows. So are we. Julio, 38, University lecturer, Hampshire

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