-- Beyoncé’s “Beyoncé” (Original Album) ****
Beyoncé’s “Beyoncé (Platinum Edition) (More)” **1/2 (Bonus material only)
Beyoncé’s “Beyoncé (Platinum Edition)” ***1/2
In case you aren’t aware, last year Beyoncé dropped a surprise album on iTunes. That self-titled record was an adventurous, ethereal work that was her most artistically forward-thinking move in quite some time. That being said, it did sound like it was informed by listening to The Weeknd and Drake for a prolonged period on repeat, but Beyoncé put her own spin on that chilled-out, club-ready sound, scoring high points on cuts like “Pretty Hurts,” “Drunk in Love” and “XO.”
This week, this all comes together as “Beyoncé (Platinum Edition)” which is available in hard copy as two discs and two DVDs. If you only want the new portion, you can get it digitally as “Beyoncé (More).” Considering how reissue-crazy the labels seem lately, it is considerate that she and her team decided to divide it out. This is, no doubt, a good move to achieve the maximum audience.
The bad news is that the added material is mainly just for extreme fans. If you are a passing fan and got the album the first time around, this is not mandatory listening. The live cuts are nice to see, but the new studio cuts are mostly remixes. And one new cut, “7/11” is little more than a cheerleading section. It’s all sass and very little substance. Beyoncé, of course, has gone a long way, partially fueled by attitude and her showmanship, but this song does not provide all that great a listen. Adding to that the sense that both it and the Nicki Minaj-assisted “Flawless” remix sound be autotuned, it comes off as a bit of a letdown, although Minaj does add a spark to the latter tune. But if there is anyone who doesn’t need autotune, it’s Beyoncé.
Mr. Vegas brings some dancehall energy and a little push to the remix of rare stand-alone cut, “Standing on the Sun” while new song “Ring Off” has a slightly dub-influenced bounce. It’s essentially the counterpoint to “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It.)” While that song is about settling down, this is an ode to “starting over again.”
With the original album, these tracks make for added, minor fascinations, but they don’t hit the main album’s artistic highs. What this ultimately means is that the “Beyoncé” album has been effectively expanded, but with few additional highlights.