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New Music Friday: Beyoncé drops her highly anticipated 7th studio album, RENAISSANCE and we are gooped

Unique, strong and sexy that's how Beyoncé wants you to feel while listening to RENAISSANCE.

Crafted during the grips of the pandemic, her seventh solo album is a celebration of freedom and complete immersion into house and dance that serves as the perfect sound bed for themes of liberation, release, self-assuredness and unfiltered confidence across its 16 tracks. RENAISSANCE is playful and energetic in a way that captures that Friday-night, just-got-paid, anything-can-happen feeling, underscored by reiterated appeals to unyoke yourself from the weight of others' expectations and revel in the totality of who you are.

From the classic four-on-the-floor house moods of the Robin S.- and Big Freedia-sampling lead single "BREAK MY SOUL" to the Afro-tech of the Grace Jones- and Tems-assisted "MOVE" and the funky, rollerskating disco feeling of "CUFF IT" this is a massive yet elegantly composed buffet of sound, richly packed with anthemic morsels that pull you in.

Beyonce Renaissance album photoshoot

There are soft moments here, too: "I know you can't help but to be yourself around me" she coos on "PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA", the kind of warm, whispers-in-the-ear love song you'd expect to hear at a summer cookout-complete with an intricate interplay between vocals and guitar that gives Beyoncé a chance to showcase some incredible vocal dexterity. "CHURCH GIRL" fuses R&B, gospel and hip-hop to tell a survivor's story: "I'm finally on the other side/l finally found the extra smiles/Swimming through the oceans of tears we cried."

Beyonce Renaissance album photoshoot

An explicit celebration of Blackness, "COZY" is the mantra of a woman who has nothing to prove to anyone-"Comfortable in my skin/Cozy with who lam," " Beyoncé muses on the chorus. And on "PURE/HONEY", Beyoncé immerses herself in ballroom culture, incorporating drag performance chants and a Kevin Aviance sample on the first half that gives way to the disco-drenched second half, cementing the song as an immediate dance-floor favourite. It's the perfect lead-in to the album closer to "SUMMER RENAISSANCE" which propels the dreamy escapist disco of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" even further into the future.

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