Beyonce and Jay-Z‘s surprise joint album, “Everything is Love,” debuted on Saturday, June 16, without any advance promotion. Now critics have had their say. Is it as good as the albums that preceded it in their trilogy of marital strife, Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and Jay-Z’s “4:44”?
As of this writing the album has an impressive MetaCritic score of 82 based on 17 reviews so far. That’s the same score as “4:44,” but shy of the 92 received by “Lemonade.” If it’s a bit of a step down for Beyonce, though, consider how high she’s stepping down from. For the sake of comparison, “Everything is Love” has rated 12 points higher than this year’s Grammy winner for Album of the Year, “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars.
It’s true that reviews aren’t everything when it comes to the Grammys; Mars actually had the lowest MetaCritic score of any of the five nominees this year. But good reviews are a good start. Critics are calling “Everything is Love” “stunning” and “musically and melodically on point.”
But maybe the recording industry’s biggest power couple will suffer by comparison to themselves. Some reviewers also note that the new album is “less adventurous” than what came before, and “not the best from either” artist. If Grammy voters balked at “Lemonade” and “4:44,” will they honor an album with less acclaim so soon after?
What do you think of “Everything is Love” and everything the critics have to say about it? Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more in our music forums.
Jem Aswad (Variety): “How does it rate as an album? Solid and generally satisfying, but not the best from either. Both artists’ high standards guarantee that the songs are musically and melodically on point, with a top-shelf team of collaborators … The most interesting thing about ‘Everything Is Love,’ which feels like a light dessert after ‘Lemonade’ and Beyonce’s deeply Afro-centric Coachella performance, may be what comes next.”
Sheldon Pearce (Rolling Stone): “‘Everything Is Love’ is couples counseling as an art exhibition, as much a splendid relationship retrospective as it is a celebration of their growing black family dynasty … Beyoncé and Jay co-produced every song, but Cool & Dre, Pharrell and Boi-1da distinguish exactly what the album sounds like – at times classicist and often trendy but usually stunning.”
Alexis Petridis (The Guardian): “If there’s nothing on ‘Everything’ Is Love’ that matches the breathtaking sonic experimentation of ‘Lemonade’s’ ‘Freedom’ – plus the sound of Beyoncé singing through Auto-Tune feels surplus to requirements, serving to diminish one of modern R&B’s true powerhouse voices – there’s still a lot to like about the music, which is far more rooted in hip-hop than R&B.”
Mikael Wood (Los Angeles Times): “The Carters are in a less adventurous mode here than they were on the kaleidoscopic ‘Lemonade’ or the radically intimate ‘4:44.’ Compared to those efforts — or to Beyoncé’s mind-blower of a performance at April’s Coachella festival — this album doesn’t seek to present either musician in a startling new light.”