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Beyoncé's surprise release

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Beyoncé by Beyoncé

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If you believe the majority of Beyoncé’s press these days, you come away with the impression everybody loves the sexy singer. However, the artist’s surprise, self-titled new album is strong in a few places, but by no means a great album.

More often than not, many of these arrangements came out half-baked, at best. The minimal grooves that introduce the semi-rapped “Haunted” and drives “No Angel” just don’t jump out of the speakers and light up the dance floor. And nothing on this disc even approximates the joyous celebration created by “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” from a few years back.

Granted, Beyoncé is not the same girly girl that led Destiny’s Child back in her youth. She is, after all, a wife and a mother now. Maybe this is why she feels the need to prove her sexuality so much with songs like the bedroom-ready “Blow,” where she not so subtly reminds us that Skittles are sweetest in the middle. Perhaps this is also the reasoning behind her strip club ready performances at both the Super Bowl and the recent Grammy show.

Beyoncé is at her best on slow groove soul songs, such as “Rocket,” “Superpower” (featuring a low-voiced Frank Ocean) and to a small extent on the single, “Drunk in Love.” Beyoncé’s fine singing voice is wasted, however, on songs like “Haunted,” where she raps the track's beginning. She should leave the rapping to her equally famous husband, Jay Z.

It’s prophetic Drake helps with one titled “Mine” because that overrated rapper’s minimal, melancholy style appears to have been an influential template for what Beyoncé has created with this latest full-length. Few will argue Beyoncé is one of our finest modern vocalists. However, this latest album does not come anywhere close to doing her big talent justice.

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