4 - Beyonce
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. Jun 29, 2011
    70
    No one but one of the most talented and accomplished singers -- one with 16 Grammys, nothing left to prove, and every desired collaborator at her disposal -- could have made this album.
  2. Jun 29, 2011
    60
    It's not an album that's as surprising or forward thinking as Dangerously in Love or B'Day, but it is for the most part a fun listen at worst and for her legion of fans it will probably translate to much more.
  3. Jun 28, 2011
    80
    The lion's share of the album--along with its excellent deluxe tracks--has one of the world's biggest stars exploring her talent in ways few could've predicted, which is always exciting.
  4. Aug 16, 2011
    60
    At Glastonbury she dazzled; here she plays it safe. [Sept. 2011, p. 105]
  5. Aug 18, 2011
    80
    The lyrics are occasionally hackneyed, but overall 4 is a very strong record indeed. [Sep 2011, p.79]
  6. Jun 28, 2011
    70
    4 might be her strangest rec­ord. It's a big-budget megapop album with an A list of guest stars (Kanye West, André 3000) and songwriter-producers (Tricky Stewart, the-Dream, Diplo, Ryan Tedder, Diane Warren). Yet it's as eccentric-- as unmistakably personal and quirky--as anything that Sufjan Stevens ever cooked up in his bedroom.
  7. 40
    There ain't too much here that's going to add to her legacy. Rather, there's the unmistakable sense of someone treading water, with even the OK bits here sounding uninspired.
  8. Jun 28, 2011
    67
    The latest from a superstar evinces a difficult but rewarding maturation.
  9. Jul 18, 2011
    70
    Imperfections and all, 4 shows that Beyoncé is willing to defy expectations and embrace her eccentricities. In doing so, she has crafted her most personal and affecting album to date.
  10. Jun 29, 2011
    80
    We should be happy that a superstar is still committed to delivering quality LPs in an environment that frowns upon such commercially unwarranted traditions, but we should be especially grateful that that superstar is Beyoncé.
  11. Jun 27, 2011
    80
    The lack of in-your-face future-funk arrangements isn't a sign that Beyoncé has lost her appetite for domination; indeed, as a singer's showcase, 4 will probably end up bested this year only by Adele's 21.
  12. Jun 24, 2011
    60
    The highpoints offer hints of what it might have been: it's hard not to feel that what it might have been sounds better than what it is.
  13. 75
    Vocally, she's never sounded better - throaty and precise - but the songs here just aren't her equal.
  14. 90
    Between doing more of the same old goodness and boiling everything down to its most essential lethality, Beyoncé also makes room on the album for more grandiose tracks that would sound right at home in Broadway musicals.
  15. Jun 29, 2011
    80
    Despite some shortcomings, 4 is an unqualified success in the Hawksian sense: There are at least three great songs and no bad ones.
  16. Jun 30, 2011
    80
    This is not your standard-issue radio candy, and the strength of the track is the hypnotic reality of the beats and the way the Houston-born superstar's voice inhabits the track.
  17. Jun 24, 2011
    60
    On 4, she's still missing a real sense of vulnerability but steps out from behind the club jams with beautifully nuanced mid-tempo production.
  18. Jun 10, 2011
    70
    It's certainly going to dilate the cervixes of the demographic among B's fanbase who can't hold it in whenever she howls out a slow-burning torch song. In 46 minutes and 12 tracks, 4 suggests a full-term nine months.
  19. Jul 6, 2011
    80
    You'd be hard pressed to find a big ticket R&B album quite as restless, tuneful and fearless this year.
  20. Jun 22, 2011
    80
    Beyoncé slips from flirty to fragile to fabulous, and is in terrific voice throughout, reminding us that when she opens up there's no-one else in the game.
  21. Jun 24, 2011
    70
    She's still a nearly peerless vocal performer, and if that's the one edge she retains over her otherwise edgier contemporaries, then it's probably for the best that her material be simple enough for her voice to really shine.
  22. Jul 18, 2011
    20
    Where this album should be fresh and current, it sounds tired, repetitive and uninspired.
  23. Jun 27, 2011
    80
    The album is certainly not the obvious follow-up to a smash record meant to redefine her as a bad girl. It exceeds those expectations.
  24. Jun 30, 2011
    80
    Those ["Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," "Get Me Bodied," "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy"] were also songs that other singers could have plausibly released and made their own. Most of 4, though, no one else could get away with, or would even want to try.
  25. Jun 28, 2011
    75
    Taken together, 4 is a surprising, confident turn, even if the surprises are of a subtler variety.
  26. 40
    Overall, the weaknesses far outnumber the strengths. Not, of course, that that will prevent huge sales figures for 4: because those numbers, ultimately, are what it's all about.
  27. So much talk of tempo and expectation must not overshadow the greatest triumph that 4 has to offer: progression.
  28. 80
    Only the syrupy "I Was Here" disappoints, its corny bluster at odds with the laid-back feel of her most accomplished album yet.
  29. Beyoncé's strident triumphalism is displaced by muted heartbreak and the cookie-cutter R&B of her mega-sellers ditched for a subtle, stripped-down sound that suggests someone's been listening to Janelle Monae.
  30. Jun 28, 2011
    80
    Beyonce's art is delivery, and 4 is a gorgeous frame for her voice at its absolute best.
  31. Don't worry about your legacy Beyonce;4 has solidified your already stable position as pop's queen, and I don't think anyone will forget your name for quite some time.
  32. Jun 30, 2011
    81
    The album is quieter and torchier than its predecessors, with the singer delivering uniformly stellar vocal performances.
  33. Jun 28, 2011
    60
    It's more Glee Club than cutting edge pop queen, and, as is so often the case with big pop albums, too many production teams spoil the froth.
  34. Jun 27, 2011
    63
    She reportedly considered 70-plus songs and hired a variety of collaborators, ranging from Babyface to M.I.A. producer Switch, and yet the album feels skimpy, half-finished.
  35. Jun 27, 2011
    80
    4 doesn't necessarily stand so well by itself, but as part of the Beyoncé experience, there are enough vehicles here to keep her moving.
  36. Aug 2, 2011
    70
    While I suspect 4 was made in large part to sound more natural and real, it doesn't succeed entirely. The album is a refreshingly understated change from the constantly banging and bumping sound of modern R&B, but it doesn't really bring us closer to the Queen B.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 335 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 24 out of 152
  1. Jun 28, 2011
    10
    4 is the more developed, mature, and experienced sister album of 2006's B'Day. With convincing emotion, shocking vulnerability, and slick cohesive production to tie it altogether, Beyonce delivered the best album of 2011 and also her career. Full Review »
  2. Jun 28, 2011
    10
    With titles such as "I Care" and "Rather Die Young" I was ready to be sung to sleep. I wasn't, Beyoncé blew me away with this collection of beautiful, soulful songs. The Ballads are what make this record, contrary to what some of these "critics" are saying. Hands down the best album I've heard vocal wise from any pop artist in years. She's an upcoming legend, more than that, an icon. Brava Beyoncé! Full Review »
  3. Jun 28, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Beautiful album, possibly her best. Her voice has so much power and the uptempo songs are so good. And ou can't forget about the deluxe tracks, they're all amazing! Full Review »