Of course Beyoncé can move your booty: She is, after all, the auteur behind radio mega-jams like “Crazy in Love” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” But Beyoncé is more interested in moving your heart on her latest, a collection of songs that focuses on her smoldering side with little of the speaker-rattling sonic bombast of previous efforts. She’s coming from the heart on 4, delivering persuasive takes on heartache, longing and, on “Best Thing I Never Had,” a touch of scornful triumph. Queen B of course has her pick of writing and producing talent from the R&B world, and 4 features contributions from Kanye West, Diane Warren, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, The-Dream and Tricky, along with a smooth collection of rhymes from OutKast’s Andre 3000 on “Party.”

Not all of it works—the album flags in the middle with a handful of indistinct songs that don’t take enough advantage of the size and sheer power of Beyoncé’s charisma. That’s the same quality, though, that holds 4 together. Beyoncé radiates emotion on the wringing opener “1+1,” gets a little salty over heart-tugging piano as she gives thanks for a would-be romance that fell through on “Best Thing I Never Had” and digs out a deep bass line that carries the spare, sighing “I Miss You.” One last relentless blast of dance fever comes at the end with “Run the World (Girls),” a monster girl-power anthem laced with blaring electro lines and martial drums. It’s a reminder that soul baring and dance-floor domination don’t have to be mutually exclusive. –Eric R. Danton

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