First it was Britney Spears. Now it seems Beyonc? Knowles has also flung herself off the deep end of the crazy cliff. Well, not quite. But the singer’s latest, I Am… Sasha Fierce, introduces the world to Beyonc?’s saucy other personality — as if the sultry former child of destiny wasn’t feisty enough.

Split between two discs, one titled I Am…, which, naturally, represents the singer herself, and the other, Sasha Fierce, is certainly an attempt to thoroughly examine the singer’s inner desires. In the end, however, neither album fully grasps the concept it tries to reach, and I Am… Sasha Fierce is somewhat schizophrenic.

In an attempt to fully explore the duality of Beyonc?’s character, both albums grasp to stay within their respective personas, and the result is stagnation. “Broken-Hearted Girl,” just one of many emotional ballads on I Am…, never reaches the emotional heights it aims at. The constant plunking of a single piano key interjected with similar synth lines hints at a momentous climax, but it never happens, and listeners are left disappointed.

Likewise for some tracks on the Sasha Fierce side. Album closer “Video Phone” over-employs the constant current of synth that runs through the entirety of this second disc. On this track, as the singer does on the entire second album, Beyonc? plays up her sexuality, but it just comes off as forced. Sure, this may be the same Beyonc? who sang “Bootylicious” with Destiny’s Child, but lyrics like “Tape me on your video phone/ I can handle you” are too ridiculous to ignore.

Aside from these musical missteps, some of the choices made here are just plain confusing. Did producers honestly think they could rip off Rihanna? Certainly they must have, considering songs like “Radio” — which sounds uncannily like the Barbadian singer’s “Shut Up and Drive” — and “Diva” sound like they’ve come straight from the 20-year-old’s playbook. Besides, it’s pretty hard to pull the wool over the public’s eyes when you’ve got two of Rihanna’s producers, Tricky Stewart and The-Dream who together wrote the uber-successful “Umbrella,” aiding in the album’s production.

Still, credit must also go to Beyonc?, who not only offers some of her most gritty and captivating vocals to date but also co-wrote all but one track on the album. Regrettably, this one track (from I Am…), “If I Were a Boy,” the album’s lead single along with “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” is the album’s best.

In the end, “to thine own self be true” should have been the singer’s guiding principle on this album. Despites its stumbling points, I Am… far outpaces Sasha Fierce in depth and sheer beauty. In the end, it’s when Beyonc? settles on one personality on I Am… Sasha Fierce that she truly shines.

2 1/2 stars out of 5