Review Summary: Rihanna still likes it rough.
Say what you will about Rihanna, but she knows how to make a damn good pop record. There was Music of the Sun
, A Girl Like Me
, Good Girl Gone Bad
, Rated R
…and now Talk That Talk
, which marks her sixth full length studio album in seven years. After the impact that she has made on the pop and R&B scene, it is almost inconceivable that Rihanna has only been in the business since 2005. Furthermore, she has accomplished more at the tender age of twenty three than most musicians ever will in their career. She is certainly a rare talent, and her penchant for releasing albums faster than anyone else in the business has given us the pleasure of following her life like a storybook. We witnessed the budding starlet come into her own with the rebellious and mildly suggestive Good Girl Gone Bad
, and despite the unsure steps that took place on Rated R
, it seemed like she hit her stride with the confident, sexually forthright Loud
. If you thought she was bold for writing lines such as “chains and whips excite me” and “you know I like it rough”, however, then you obviously haven’t heard her latest undertaking.
Talk That Talk
is Rihanna’s most mature recording to date, blending the sunny, Barbadian pop style of her earliest albums with the club-savvy R&B found on Loud
. Most of you who actively listen to the radio have heard her hit single ‘We Found Love’, and even though it is a far cry from being the best song on here, it is an accurate gauge of what to expect going in. Overblown synthesizers and deep, groovy electronic beats dominate Talk That Talk
, giving it a definitive nightlife feel and a tendency to warrant some kind of foot or hip movement. The catchiest (and many will agree, best) song is the opening track, entitled ‘You Da One’, which hooks us in with its insanely infectious verses and then wins us over with a chorus that is simply unforgettable. ‘Where Have You Been’ is another highlight, lulling us into a trance with Rihanna’s sultry vocals overtop of a heavy backbeat before awakening us with a sudden and somewhat unexpected delve into a heavily electronic, quick-pulsing rhythm reminiscent of The Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Dirty Bit.’ The title track seems like the most likely candidate to dominate airplay, and Jay-Z’s duties on guest vocals certainly won’t hurt the song’s cause. His rapped verses give ‘Talk That Talk’ some much needed variety, as Rihanna is spot on as usual but does nothing out of the ordinary to keep us coming back. This album also contains two of Rihanna’s better slow songs, with the power ballad ‘We All Want Love’ and the dramatic, wistful closer ‘Farewell.’ Not every song that is bestowed upon us during Talk That Talk
is one hundred percent gold, but this is the closest thing to a completely satisfying album as you will likely hear from Rihanna. It’s more of a unified experience than a game of “find the hit”, which proves in itself Rihanna’s immeasurable progress since her Music of the Sun
Even though the musical aspect of the album is quite good, it may be the lyrics that end up getting the most attention on Talk That Talk
. Rihanna is as brazen as ever regarding her sexual desires, and they far exceed the old “sex sells” adage. That isn’t to say it’s a bad thing though, because considering the album’s R&B/club oriented style, it will most likely be blasted through speakers overtop of hundreds of sweaty, grinding young adults. Provocative lyrics ranging from “suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion” to “ooh I wanna fuck you right now” pop up in nearly every single song, and even at her most innocent, Rihanna wails ‘You shouldn’t have given it to me like that, shouldn’t hit it like that, have me yellin’ like that.” Just like Loud
before it, Talk That Talk
makes no effort to be subtle. But maybe that is appropriate for Rihanna, who was equally conspicuous in her fast rise to fame. Plus, over the course of her dominant stay at the pinnacle of pop, she has never shied away from who she really is. In a way, that actually makes her animalistic tendencies even more endearing. No one can nail the album’s overtly sexual theme as being a gimmick because she is simply expressing a part of her personality that has always been there, dating all the way back to Good Girl Gone Bad
. Therefore as Rihanna tempts, teases and flaunts, there will be no complaints here.
As a whole, Talk That Talk
is an album that will only further augment Rihanna’s increasingly legendary musical career. It is meant to be fun, catchy, sexy, and danceable, and while it isn’t groundbreaking by any means, it succeeds in reaching all of its goals. The album will undoubtedly sell like hotcakes, and not just because it’s Rihanna, but because it’s a great pop/R&B record. Looking for 2011’s guilty pleasure? Talk That Talk
will hit the spot…oh yeah baby…right there.