"The sensual atmospherics and sometimes downright explicit lyrics leave no doubt that this hot mama can still get her freak on," PEOPLE's music critic writes

By PEOPLE Music Critic Chuck Arnold
Updated December 01, 2020 11:04 PM
Credit: Courtesy Beyonce

After Jay Z came up with a creative way of releasing Magna Carta Holy Grail in July – an app for Samsung Galaxy phones gave an exclusive early download – his wife surprised the world with her fifth solo album, Beyoncé , delivered as an iTunes exclusive early Friday morning.

While the music on Magna failed to have the same freshness as the marketing strategy, Beyoncé (which also comes packed with 17 videos) finds Queen B exploring new sonic – and surprisingly sexual – territory with her most adventurous music yet.

Indeed, the sensual atmospherics and sometimes downright explicit lyrics on her first album since giving birth to her daughter almost two years ago leave no doubt that this hot mama can still get her freak on.

The unusually raw (for her) language – which extends to profanity – even gets six of these 14 songs to be labeled as “explicit.” This is not a record that Blue Ivy will be allowed to play uncensored until sometime after 2030!

The steamy standout is “Rocket,” a Prince-meets-D’Angelo slow jam that she cowrote with Miguel, Justin Timberlake (who also sings background vocals) and producer Timbaland.

As bad girl Beyoncé details her every desire – including “punish me” – it’s without question the raunchiest thing she’s ever done. With Timberlake again cowriting, she remains crazy in lust over the edgy, spacey beats of the grinding “Partition” and the frisky, funky “Blow,” produced with the resurgent Pharrell. Many songs have the ambient moodiness of acts like the Weeknd, James Blake and Drake, who turns up on the hypnotic highlight “Mine.”

Another special guest makes an appearance at the end of the album’s closer, the aptly titled “Blue.” Cutely talking and laughing, the singer’s 23-month-old little girl adds an innocent levity to the lasciviousness.