Beyonce's 4 Album: What Critics Say

Beyonce - Performance Glastonbury Festival U.K. - Full Body - 2011
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One says "vocally, she's never sounded better," while another laments "the CD snores."

Beyonce's fourth solo album, the aptly titled 4, hits stores Tuesday. What are the critics saying?

"As flexible as her voice is, it's wasted on songs that wouldn't stick in your head even if they were smeared with 'Crazy in Love' glue," laments the New York Post's Dan Aquilante.

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"The CD snores on with "I Care," "I Miss You" and "The Best Thing I Never Had.'" adds Aquilante. "The lady finally puts a ring on "4" in the hip-pop jam "Countdown," and later with the Prince-esque "End of Time." Unfortunately it's too little, too late.

The New York Daily News gives it a lukewarm review too.

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"Beyoncé, woman warrior, finally lays down her sword on her new CD," the paper's Jim Farber writes. "In some ways, she has done so masterfully: "4" extends the most emotional parts of "Sasha Fierce," with the role model for many songs being that CD's "If I Were a Boy."

"Luckily, the melodies of the ballads often redeem their quasi-cheeseball arrangements - enough, in fact, to earn the massive airplay they're likely to inspire. "Best Thing I Never Had" boasts a soaring tune and a clever lyric about dodging the bullet of bad love. "Rather Die Young," like many cuts, has a choir of Beyoncés that recall the harmonies of the Emotions."

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Entertainment Weekly's Adam Markovitz points out all of the singer's success, and asks, "why does it feel likeBeyoncé is struggling so hard to prove herself on "4?" The album is an every-song-for-itself welter of conflicting ambitions: It wants to be cutting-edge but familiar, accessible but artistic, hot-blooded but strictly impersonal."

But, Markovitz gives her props: "Vocally, she's never sounded better -- throaty and precise -- but the songs here just aren't her equal."

"It's exactly the kind of genre-busting risk that few other current pop stars would even attempt, let alone pull off flawlessly with a no-big-thing shrug. With more moments like that, "4" might have been an album fully worthy of her talent. As it is, though, even star students get the occasional B [grade]."

USA Today's Steve Jones says Beyonce "exposes a much more vulnerable side" and that her voice sounds "stronger and more assured than ever."

"Compared with Beyoncé's three previous albums, which arrived on a wave of hit singles, the release of 4 seems relatively quiet. Neither lead single Run the World (Girls) nor Best Thing I Never Had has caught fire on the charts," adds Jones. But after Fierce's duality, Beyoncé does not seem to need to make a cutting-edge statement. This time, she's content to stay in her comfort zone."