I Am...Sasha Fierce

Having transitioned into a more grown-up sound, Beyoncé has gotten conceptual on us: Her third album offers two discs, a collection of heartfelt ballads credited to Beyoncé and a danceable set credited to "Sasha Fierce," the pop diva's more brash, lady-empowering alter ego. Though some of the slow songs have thoroughly memorable tunes, the lyrics are full of bland self-affirmation and saggy lines like "You're everything I thought you never were." But the "Sasha" disc boasts Beyoncé's most adventurous music yet: She rides frothy techno on "Radio," turns out modal-sounding hooks over 808 bass on "Diva" and juices the eerie, Nine Inch Nails-style beats of "Video Phone" with lines like "Press 'record' and I'll let you film me." Another plus: The girl who blew up going all melismatic has never sung with more restraint than she does on Sasha.