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Review Roundup: BEYONCE's Surprise Self-Titled Visual Album

Related: Beyonce

The fifth solo studio album from Beyoncé is now available worldwide, exclusively on the iTunes Store (www.iTunes.com/beyonce). The self-titled set is the artist's first visual album. BEYONCÉ is infused with 14 new songs and 17 visually provocative videos shot around the world from Houston to New York City to Paris, and Sydney to Rio de Janeiro, all before the album's release.

That the album is available on the day the world is learning about its release is an unprecedented strategic move by the artist to deliver music and visual content directly to her fans when she wants to and how she wants to, with no filter. This unique approach allows music fans to be the first to listen, view, engage and form their own opinions void of any middleman.

Beyoncé, wearing multiple hats as writer, producer and director, put together a genius team of artists, songwriters, producers and video directors for her visual album that include Jay Z, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Drake, The Dream, Sia, Ryan Tedder, Miguel, Frank Ocean, Hit Boy, Ammo, Boots, Detail, Jake Nava, Hype Williams, Terry Richardson, Melina Matsoukas, Jonas Akerlund, Ricky Saiz, Pierre Debusschere, @lilinternet, Noah "40" Shebib, Francesco Carrozzini, Caroline Polachek, Ed Burke, Bill Kirstein and Todd Tourso.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Jon Pareles, The New York Times: Beyoncé is flawless so no one else has to be. That's the theme of her superb fifth studio album, "Beyoncé" (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia), which arrives as a feat of both music and promotion. Its songs are steamy and sleek, full of erotic exploits and sultry vocals; every so often, for variety, they turn vulnerable, compassionate or pro-feminist. And with both the songs and the videos, Beyoncé consolidates one of pop's most finely balanced personas; she is, at once, glamorous and down-home, carnal and sweet, "Queen Bey" and a diligent trouper, polished and human.

Nick Catucci, Entertainment Weekly: Some fans will no doubt feel lost in this murky, intermittently thrilling new territory. For them - and everyone else with a heart - there's "Blue," which features her baby-talking toddler Blue Ivy reverbed into infinity at the end, but more importantly, proves that not every piano-laden pop ballad need bring the doldrums on. Like much of Beyoncé, it balances formal inventiveness with emotional directness. Share it with your little niece, or someone else you love. A-

Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone: The vibe on Beyoncé is moodily futuristic R&B, strongest when it goes for full-grown electro soul with an artsy boho edge. "Blow," the best track here, evokes Janet Jackson circa The Velvet Rope, a song about oral sex that has an air of melancholy in the chilly neo-disco groove...Beyoncé may have gotten "bored" with the popstar routine, as she confesses in "Ghost." But only massive hubris could have made a feat like this album possible. And Beyoncé's hubris makes the world a better, more Beyoncé-like place.


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More On: Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Ryan Tedder, Terry Richardson, Jon Pareles,

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