In a move on par with the Second Coming in terms of its sheer ability to provoke excitement, Beyoncé has announced her return. Her next solo album, Renaissance, is set for a July 29 release. An update on her website that appeared during the wee hours of Thursday morning has revealed a rather sparse indication of the upcoming drop—apparently what’s coming next month is merely “act i,” which suggests there’s more Renaissance on the way. The album’s pre-add page on Apple Music lists 16 tracks (12 of which are labeled “explicit”), but no song titles.
A slightly less sparse British Vogue cover story that also dropped Thursday claims “a thrilling abundance” of music is coming. That story, which in its online form contains just two quotes (17 words in total) from Beyoncé, tells more than it shows. However, British Vogue EIC Edward Enninful, who wrote the story, does claim to have heard at least some of the new music, and he describes it like this:
Instantly, a wall of sound hits me. Soaring vocals and fierce beats combine and in a split second I’m transported back to the clubs of my youth. I want to get up and start throwing moves. It’s music I love to my core. Music that makes you rise, that turns your mind to cultures and subcultures, to our people past and present, music that will unite so many on the dance floor, music that touches your soul. As ever with Beyoncé, it is all about the intent. I sit back, after the wave, absorbing it all.
...more like British Vague, but it’s what we have to work with at the moment.
Beyoncé appears on top of a horse on a dance floor in one of the piece’s accompanying photos, which echoes of Bianca Jagger at Studio 54. She lounges on a giant disco ball in platform boots in another shot. Together they suggest a disco flavor, but truly who knows at this point.
The AP reports that Bey is planning “intimate” shows and pop-up performances around the U.K. to coincide with the Renaissance release, with a “huge tour” to follow. Renaissance will be the first proper Beyoncé solo album since 2016's paradigm-shifting Lemonade. In 2018, she released the Everything Is Love duets album with her husband Jay Z, and in 2019, she released The Lion King: The Gift, which featured music inspired by the CGI remake of Disney’s animated classic. Neither record had the impact of Lemonade or Bey’s 2013 self-titled album, which introduced the world to the concept of the surprise digital album drop (or “pulling a Beyoncé” as it came to be known). Renaissance comes at a crucial juncture for this purveyor of superstardom’s gold standard. But certainly, if anyone can pull off clearing the impossible bar Beyoncé has set in pop artistry, it is Beyoncé herself. Be excited.