B'DAY

-- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:18 PM ET


Beyonce
B'Day
(Columbia/Sony BMG)

Hey Beyonce, it's your birthday, it's your birthday, it's your birthday. Well, to be precise, last Monday was the day Beyonce Knowles turned the big 2-5. And to mark the occasion, she's thrown herself a party. But it's not the lavish, star-studded soiree you might expect.

Rather, Beyonce's B'Day is a loud, raucous barnburner of a bash. Supposedly recorded in just a couple of weeks, this refreshingly immediate set finds the Destiny's Child diva wiping off the lip gloss and letting down her hair with a set of aggressively in-your-face hip-hop and R&B workouts.

Beyonce gets the party started with Deja Vu, a duet with boyfriend Jay-Z. Vaguely reminiscent of 2003's massive hit Crazy in Love, it busts out of the gate and sets a pace that Knowles maintains for most of this lean, mean, 48-minute disc. Producers like Swizz Beats, The Neptunes, Rich Harrison and Rodney Jerkins keep the beats banging, the grooves slamming, the energy level high and the attitude brash and bootylicious.

Get Me Bodied turns dancing into a contact sport with the help of cheerleader handclaps. Suga Mama is an old-school funk grinder, with Beyonce inviting you to "come sit on Mama lap, hey." The bouncing Upgrade U brings Jigga back on the mic. Ring the Alarm is a shrill tantrum of green-eyed monsterdom whose unhinged refrain ("I'll be damned if I see another chick on your arm!") sounds closer to classic Kelis than the poised Beyonce.

The purring Kitty Kat is about just what you think. Freakum Dress rocks out to a bashing beat and an irresistible chorus. After all that sweaty action, you don't mind that Beyonce sends everybody home with a trio of ballads, including a full-blown orchestral wailer from her upcoming film Dreamgirls.

But here's a tip: You can skip the extended remix of Get Bodied that closes the disc.

Hey, nobody wants to be the last one at the party.

Track Listing:

1. Deja Vu - Beyonce, Jay-Z,
2. Get Me Bodied
3. Suga Mama
4. Upgrade U - Beyonce, Jay-Z,
5. Ring the Alarm
6. Kitty Kat
7. Freakum Dress
8. Green Light
9. Irreplaceable
10. Resentment


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