Beyonce's surprise album gets rave reviews: 'It's a winner'

Beyonce. Photo / AP
Beyonce. Photo / AP

Beyonce's new album has received rave reviews from critics after its stealth release.

Her self-titled fifth album, featuring 14 tracks each accompanied by a video, was available on iTunes on Friday - the same day it was announced.

The album features 14 songs and 17 videos. Collaborators include Jay Z, Drake and Frank Ocean. The closing track, Blue, features her daughter Blue Ivy.

Beyonce said she "didn't want to release my music the way I've done it" and wanted the album to come out when it was ready, from her to her fans.

Critics said it was among the best albums the pop star has released, and it had an 85 per cent approval rating on Metacritic.

"Once the initial novelty and shock wears off of Beyoncé's impressive stealth-release feat, the brilliance and creative audacity of the album itself can sink in," Billboard wrote in a track-by-track review.

"It's as impressive an accomplishment creatively as it is for shifting the industry towards a more nontraditional take on the 'single-album-tour' strategy."

The New York Times said the album was "alert to the current sound of clubs and radio, but not trapped by it".

"Its songs are steamy and sleek, full of erotic exploits and sultry vocals; every so often, for variety, they turn vulnerable, compassionate or pro-feminist. And with both the songs and the videos, Beyoncé consolidates one of pop's most finely balanced personas; she is, at once, glamorous and down-home, carnal and sweet, 'Queen Bey' and a diligent trouper, polished and human."

The Guardian gave the album four stars, calling it a "winner".

"Beyoncé's vocals span some squeaky sexed-up falsettos, hood rat rapping, wordless ecstasies and effortless swoops. The best surprise of all, in an autumn in which Beyoncé's closest competitors - Gaga, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus - made underperforming bids for the throne, is how thoroughly assured, immersive and substantial this album is."

TRACKLIST:

1. Pretty Hurts
2. Haunted
3. Drunk In Love (feat. Jay Z)
4. Blow
5. No Angel
6. Partition
7. Jealous
8. Rocket
9. Mine (feat. Drake)
10. XO
11. Flawless (feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche)
12. Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean)
13. Heaven
14. Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)

- AP

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