Review Summary: Rihanna Talks That Talk, and works it out.
In past interviews, the self-proclaimed bad girl Rihanna had stated that this would be “the dirtiest album since Erotica.” The fundamental problem of Rihanna has always been that other than Rated R, Rihanna has not actually made a cohesive album. One might even note that because of this, her album sales fall short to her singles as an artist that is setting record for top 10 hits. She hasn't even had a US number one album. Although the album is only half dedicated to the debauchery that Rihanna promised, the album takes a new path and becomes Rihanna's most consistent effort to date.
Whereas Born This Way was meant to be the most bodacious album of the decade, Lady Gaga
music was overproduced and it ruined the obnoxiousness that her image had, and where there was too much production, other tracks were missing conviction. The branding lacked any form of acceptable follow-up from the hype and thus the album gave disappointing results. Rihanna takes her bad girl image (note the album/single covers and music video for “We Found Love”) and soaks one with enough dirt to want more, but not to the point where one finds it corny, or overly raunchy.
This is Rihanna's most musically cohesive album today. She harnessed her Carribean routes and worked with producers like Chase and Status and Bangladesh to make dubstep-influenced, or MIA-like Carribean ear candy that shows that she has found her niche. The album is balanced into two parts: self-indulgent dance tracks, and soaring love tracks. On the floating side we see fresh island tracks like “You Da One.” “We Found Love” is perfectly balanced with a floating melody combined with Calvin Harris
's signature production to create a number one smash hit, and the Bob Marley-esque song “We All Want Love” is light and airy. Although none of these songs had the lyrical edge or filth that she promised, they add to the conviction of the darker tracks on the album, and make the album still enjoyable and fun.
Perhaps the best tracks on this album are the ones in which Rihanna actually embraces the slinky persona that she has created through the use of innuendo. “Birthday Cake” is the most repetitive song on the album (With the word “cake” repeated a few dozen times in the span of just over a minute) but works because of the percussive production and short time. “Suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion,” says Rihanna in the chant-like song “Cockiness.” Katy Perry should take notes, this is how one should use the work “cock” in a song.
“Roc Me Out” combines the edge of “Black and Yellow” and “Rude Boy” to make another grimy track while brilliantly sampling The XX
's “Intro,” and “Drunk On Love” is reminiscent of Loud's best song, “What's My Name,” with Rihanna singing “I love it, I crave it” with serious conviction and confident, powerful vocals. “Where Have You Been” has aggressive, commanding lyricism and production that creates power, and the title track shows Rihanna's artistic growth since she last collaborated with Jay-Z on “Umbrella.” Whereas “S&M” felt insincere because of the electronic artificiality and corny one-liners, Rihanna has never sounded dirtier on Talk That Talk the stompy production makes Rihanna finally come into character.
The deluxe edition tracks, although better suited for Rated R, are notable too. "Red Lipstick" is produced my Chase and Status and samples Metallica's "Wherever I May Roam." The rock-dubstep mesh is intense and intriguing. "Fool In Love" takes time to build, but it is a compelling track about the hardships of being in love. "Do Ya Thang" allows for a glimpse of Rihanna returning to the roots of her debut, and shows us that although the good girl has gone bad, she can still be sugar sweet.
The hit and miss of the album “Farewell” finishes the album on an extremely confusing note, not gluing to either of the lyrical themes as another random ballad. We see Rihanna being irrelevantly vulnerable on an album that's meant to be that way, contradicting any themes on this album. Although it shows versatility, it is awkwardly placed at the end to finish this album on a disappointing close. Despite the misplacement of “Farewell,” the album is a great listen. At only 37 minutes, Rihanna's production line of hit singles and albums keeps on churning out music that blasts onto the iPods, the charts, and our minds.