The Guardian, that bastion of muesli-munching, Birkenstock wearing, bearded, politically correct readers – i.e., me, published an article this week that caught my eye for its unusual candyfloss content: the 10 Best Albums of the first half of 2016.
I read it avidly, and as someone who has OCD tendencies from teenage years of trainspotting in Doncaster (everyone did – it had no social stigma in the 70s), I mentally counted up how many I owned or had listened to via Spotify streaming and the result was puny: three.
- Drake – Views (yes I’m 51 but One Dance is a great track and the album, despite its expletive-ridden lyrics is good too).
- David Bowie – Blackstar. I downloaded this on release and when I replayed it yesterday, given Bowie’s recent death, it moved me immensely. The lyrics are valedictory.
- The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. Cumbersome title aside, this is one of my own favourites.
The other seven contained some artists I’d never heard of, but some familiar names: namely Rihanna, Beyoncé and Radiohead.
Trainspotter instincts rising, I started streaming all 10 to realise Beyoncé had gone all Taylor Swift and restricted its download.
I felt compelled to buy the CD, even though my car has no CD player.
No CD tendencies again.
“Lemonade” arrived yesterday.
Hand-picked and sealed, I guess, by some exploited worker who’d find Mike Ashley‘s management style almost avuncular.
We’ve now listened to this CD for three consecutive times on my hifi separates system bought in 1992 (luckily I resisted the extended warranty spiel back then, which shows what nonsense it really is?)
“Lemonade” is well worthy of its top 10 in The Guardian.
It shows an artist who is not afraid to do what she likes – there is no soaring “Crazy in Love” on there but the music and lyrics are eclectic, with nods to 70s disco anthems and even Gorecki.
I kid you not.
It’s an album heavily centred on jealousy and betrayal, which oddly perhaps, connected for me with Shakespeare – Iago’s, Desdemona’s, and Othello’s doomed triage.
The opening song, Pray you Catch Me, sets the tone:
“You can taste the dishonesty
It’s all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier
But even that’s a test
Constantly aware of it all
My lonely ear
Pressed against the walls of your world.”
The whole album carries on in this vein, with quite a few explicit lyrics.
It strikes me as the work of an artist who is incredibly liberated, incredibly self-indulgent in a positive way; Beyoncé is doing and saying what she wants and making the best lemonade I’ve ever tasted.
“Lemonade” is life-affirming and I need this drink in this period of my own life – right now.