4 is the first Beyoncé album whose slow, serious songs I don’t automatically skip. Good thing, too, because it’s mostly slow-ish, serious-ish songs, as opposed to Dangerously in Love, which dumped them at the back end of album; I Am…Sasha Fierce, which gave them their own disc; and her best record, B’Day, which nearly excised them altogether. The up-tempo “Countdown” is getting a lot of attention right now, with its Franken-pop construction and inspired gibberish like “ME and my BOOF and my BOOF BOOF ridin’” (thus joining “Ra-ra ah-ah-ah, roma ro-ma-ma, gaga ooh-la-la” and “Mama say, mama sa, mama ma coo sa” in the annals of great pop nonsense), but the album’s undisputed highlights for me are the aforeblogged lovesexy scorcher of a ballad “1+1″ and this song, in which Beyoncé addresses a lover’s indifference by attacking it with the nearest weapon to hand, her voice. Listen to the way she shouts “IIIII CARE!” in the chorus, or just plain screams at the end of it — it’s like Chris Cornell wailing into the abyss of Andrew Wood’s heroin overdose in “Times of Trouble” by Temple of the Dog. Sonically the two songs aren’t even all that dissimilar: state-of-the-art production that creates a nice melancholy purple cushion of air around the instrumentation, in “I Care”‘s case the tumbling drums in particular. Hell, in a world where Bey’s mashing up Prince and Kings of Leon and having freaking Tricky do the Sean Paul part in “Baby Boy” at Glastonbury, I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up tomorrow to find out she’d covered it. It’d be a fine outlet for the sort of skill and conviction she displays here (like the way her voice warbles when she says she’s been “deserted” or the way she sings along to the guitar solo like she can’t bear to stop pouring out the emotion she’s feeling), and for her ever-sharpening taste for interesting arrangements (“I Care” and “I Miss You” are mostly synth tones and spare percussion; the latter just sort of disappears rather than ends the way proper commercial pop songs do; even the Diane Warren-penned “I Was Here” has some weird spectral Interpol guitar stretching out from the end of the chorus). She’s taking the sort of stuff that usually made for turgid one-listen mom-radio bait and making it lively and engrossing. Frankly there’s not much she can’t do at this point.