First take: Beyonce’s album a feast for eyes, ears

Beyonce performs onstage at her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour 2013.
  • The album %27BEYONCE%27 has 14 brand new tracks and 17 videos.
  • It%27s a fully baked album%2C no filler remixes and re-released greatest hits.
  • She touches on both her life as a star and as a mother.
  • On her surprise fifth studio album, which links each track to a video, Beyoncé reveals more than just her amazing post-baby body and showstopper videos.

    It was posted to iTunes early Friday morning with no advertising and an explanation on her Facebook page.

    With 14 brand-new tracks and 17 videos, it’s a fully baked album, no filler remixes and re-released greatest hits. By sidestepping a promotional blitz and gimmicks, this album, titled BEYONCÉ, could be her most personal yet.

    On Ghost, she seems surprisingly in touch with the 9-to-5 grind, echoing her own career frustrations and, most notably, her boredom with record labels.

    Drunk in Love (featuring husband Jay Z) takes a darker turn from their most famous collaboration, Crazy in Love. Beyoncé lowers her voice to a growl, singing about getting drunk with angry abandon.

    Pretty Hurts also shows a darker side of the singer. Beyoncé may be the biggest pop star in the world, and her life of glitz and glamour is well documented, but she does not often leave her thoughts vulnerable for the public. In the track, she voices the pressure of beauty and relentless performing.

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    Beyoncé features Drake and Frank Ocean on a couple of tracks, but the most famous guest on the album is baby Blue Ivy. Her daughter is the subject of the aptly named tracks Blue and Heaven, which are sweet ballads that peek into her family life.

    In each of those songs’ corresponding videos, both produced to look like they’d been shot with a handheld camera, Beyoncé is not a scantily clad, cold and removed pop star; she’s a smiling, relaxed mother. Awash in soft light for scenes of her and Blue Ivy, the videos, as well as the songs themselves, stand in stark contrast with the harder tracks on the album.

    BEYONCÉ is a feast for the eyes and the ears, and it’s a revealing look at Beyoncé, from Beyoncé’s point of view.

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