For much of her career Beyoncé Knowles has been strangely unknowable. The grip on her enormous fame seemed to echo that of her hero Michael Jackson – interested in the fantastical magic carpet ride of music rather than its reflective qualities. However, the pointedly titled BEYONCÉ continues the unravelling of The Brand which began on 2011’s 4. There are thrilling moments where she smashes the very issues of female identity she helped propagate via spoken word segments and a left-ist R&B backdrop. On Pretty Hurts she sings “perfection is a disease of the nation,” while on The xx-ish Haunted her nihilistic streak states “All the shit I do is boring / All these record labels... boring.” And yet it’s this continued need to feed her multi-platinum beast (the Ryan Tedder produced, Coldplay-ish XO, a case in point) that ultimately stops the album from being the post-modern wheeze it could have been.
Check out the video for XO below:
PHOTO: Robin Harper