Review Summary: "Psst. Rihanna's a murderer. No Way!"
Sometimes it's hard to make a decent second album with something else to offer. A Girl Like Me does just that, but with the natural tag-along tide of bad moments.
hit the ground running in 2005, she devoted a lot of her music towards various styles. A blending of styles gave her a pretty distinct sound, set her up, and provided her with something to aspire towards in her second record, which came pretty quickly after her first, despite her continual touring. Of course, her first record was commercially quite successful, so naturally you’d expect similar material to litter the second album – and it does, but it also comes with some very memorable moments.
The album opener, “SOS”
is yet another exploitation of Soft Cell
’s 1981 rendition of Ed Cobb
's “Tainted Love.”
Of all the cover versions that try to replicate the success of Soft Cell’s, Rihanna’s is one of the better ones. Why? Because it’s not just a bastardised version trying to claim success of the exact same song structure. “SOS” for the most part is a good mix of Rihanna’s “Pon De Replay”
like rhythms, and Soft Cell’s synth-pop clamour of chords, where even the lyrics have been shifted to suit the theme, and therefore makes for an excellent album initiator.
Music of the Sun (2005)
tried to demonstrate the influence of Rihanna’s musical heritage of the Caribbean, but fell down to poor song writing from Evan Rogers
and Carl Sturken
. “Kisses Don’t Lie”
is your genuine angst driven love song. Sure, it’s nothing new, but it’s still a pretty catchy cue, which blends both reggae syncopation and R&B.
One problem that immediately comes to mind when listening is that the first four tracks are the best, but everything else just falls behind. Whoever chose to put the four best songs first was a moron. If the singles were evenly distributed over perhaps once every three tracks then it would give the listener much more incentive to keep on listenin’. But without getting too negative, the songs which do fall can have their moments. Such as “A Million Miles Away,”
with its calming mix of piano, Rihanna, and emotion, and the similarly love driven track of “Final Goodbye.”
Then there is the reggae oriented tracks which taint the middle section of the album, making this album in many ways, more reggae influenced then her earlier effort. The songs aren’t amazing, but show a better progression from the two major songwriters, Sturken and Rogers.
The other two great instalments from here are of course, “Unfaithful,”
and “We Ride.”
While the vocal performance on Unfaithful can become a bit irritating, it’s still worth the listen, but the lyrics don’t really account for the emotion, whoever thought Rihanna would ever consider herself a murderer? Then there is the road-trippin’ roll-off element of We Ride which is certainly second best to “SOS.”
Like Music of the Sun, this album ends pretty badly. "A total anti-climax" is what “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want”
should have been called. But I suppose albums like this don't exactly have to keep up the pace at such a late stage of the disc. It’s hard to pinpoint why the album kicks its own goals, and just lets other through irresponsibly. There are many reasons why the album could be interpreted as bad, but there is also a lot that could be attributed to proficiency from her. What ever the reasons, A Girl Like Me, is still a pretty good pop album, which certainly makes for better listening then her first album.