Why Beyoncs Renaissance Is the Best Album of 2022
Image by Callum Abbott, photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Why Beyoncé’s Renaissance Is the Best Album of 2022

In this episode of the Pitchfork Review podcast, our critics discuss the inspirations and themes behind Beyoncé’s club opus, which topped our Best Albums of the Year list.

Co-hosted by Editor-in-Chief Puja Patel and Reviews Editor Jeremy D. Larson, and featuring guest critics and contributors, our weekly podcast includes in-depth analysis of the new albums we find extraordinary, exciting, and just plain terrible. This week, Contributor Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, who reviewed Beyoncé’s Renaissance for us over the summer, pops by to chat about how the album serves as a love letter to Black and queer club culture, and why it shows the superstar using her immense power for good.

Listen to this week’s episode below, and follow The Pitchfork Review here. You can also check out an excerpt of the podcast’s transcript below. 

Jeremy D. Larson: Where do you rank this record in Beyoncé’s catalog? 

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd: I’m going to say it: I think this is her best album.

Puja Patel: Wow! There it is!

Shepherd: The fact that it has had a hold on culture to this degree. All of her albums do. But this feels different to me. And it feels like it’s partly timing, because it’s exactly what we needed after the past two years of the pandemic and everything that’s going on in the world. Everyone I know is just existentially depressed, and this is like a respite. But I also think that this is her most adventurous, best-sounding, and perhaps even most self-actualized album. 

Larson: Puja, where does this rank for you? 

Patel: It is very high up there for me. Part of it is that you can listen to it front through back without pause, and that it’s built that way. 

Larson: No skips, no notes. 

Patel: I mean, definitely plenty of notes. [laughs]

Larson: A few notes. 

Shepherd: One skip. 

Patel: One skip, but it’s at the end, so you can just turn it off right then. It is among my favorites, I’ll put it like that.