Good morning to you all from Ears To The House. It’s Monday and the start of a brand new week – and we start it with an apology. Everything which could go wrong over the weekend duly did, and the result of this was no one being free to write anything up for Sunday. Thankfully, all problems have now been resolved and we won’t be coming off the airwaves again!
Right, let’s get back to business. On Friday, Beyoncé Knowles finally released her new album “Renaissance” – if, of course, you discount the fact physical copies did surface in Europe a few days earlier. By all accounts, there was going to be a house influence on this album – so we decided to take a closer look.
We opted to use the same approach as we did for Drake’s recent album – we would all listen to it, discuss it and write up a collective review afterwards. Drake’s album did not come out of it too well – will Beyoncé fare any better? Despite our difficulties, we all managed to listen to it over the weekend, so what was our verdict?
Well, Beyoncé’s legion of fans might be delighted by her latest efforts. Unfortunately, we’re not. But let’s start by being kind, or at least trying to be. It’s not as bad as Drake’s album – which we thought was dreadful. We know this isn’t setting the bar particularly high, but that’s how we feel.
Several house producers were seemingly involved in the making of Renaissance – Luke Solomon, Honey Dijon and Green Velvet to name but three – but listening to the album, most of the album just left us wondering exactly what their contributions were. How much insight did they provide? Where exactly are their inspirations and ideas present in the music?
Please understand this isn’t meant in a malicious context – far from it. Whilst Beyoncé Knowles is a pleasure to listen to compared to the horribly autotuned voice of Drake, we were still left with the impression this was mostly R&B with house added on as an afterthought. Yes, most of these records could easily be turned into full-on house tracks, just like used to happen in the 90s with this kind of music. But a house album, this certainly is not.
Some of the tracks, such as “Cuff It” and “Summer Renaissance” have more of a disco influence than house – although the respective involvement of Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder might have something to do with it. Perhaps these producers were more comfortable, more experienced with the process than the house crowd – who simply may not be as used to working with big musicians.
Elsewhere, we just found ourselves questioning the sheer amount of swearing on the album and wondering if many of Beyoncé’s songs have always been so sexually explicit, or whether this is a more recent development. The, ahem, voluptuous cover photo of Renaissance leaves us somewhat unsure. We’re happy for you to make your own minds up about that one…