Review Summary: Time to grow up, Ri-Ri.
Rihanna has put out 6 albums in 6 years, and mind you, she's not even 25 yet. She somehow seems to have a formula on each record. That formula is- fun, party anthems applauding that freakin' weekend that she desperately anticipates, and soul crushingly depressing breakup ballads. There is an exception to this method though, in the likes of "Rated R", which was mostly slow tracks with a few party tunes.
I don't know about you but I'm starting to get really tired of this formula. Because I, for one, happen to really like Rihanna. She's got a beautiful voice and she's not hard to look at (mind you, I'm gay). She has some fun tunes and all, but it's clear that she seems to not know where to go with each record and just adheres to an apparent book she owns named "How to Make a Pop Album".
It's also worth noting that I'm not so sure if I can call her albums hers either, since she has a lot of people write for her. Not that that's uncommon in today's pop music, but even Lady Gaga writes most of her own material. But enough of that, let's get to her latest product, "Talk that Talk". Yes, I call it a product. Because quite frankly it's not really much of an album, at least not to me.
Like I said, the same formula as the past few non "Rated R" albums. There's the fun tunes like "Where Have You Been" and the title track, slow ballads like "Farewell". There's another formula here too- songs that are either really dreadful or really good.
Some of the really good tracks include the EPIC "Where Have You Been", a song that is, well, amazing, at least to me. It sort of has an epic feel, like "the dance anthem of our generation" so to speak. I hate modern electronically but I love the synth riffs throughout the song. "Talk That Talk" is fun and danceable, and I love Jay Z's sprinkles of raps throughout the tune. "You Da One" is fun and silly and even a bit sassy as well, as there's an air of class and intelligence in it and the Bob Marley influence helps as well.
But then there's also tracks like the dreadful "We Found Love", which is responsible for me not seeing Magic Mike despite me wanting so badly to see Matt Bomer in nothing but a g-string. The buildups are unintentionally hilarious and it doesn't help that we hear that dreadful chorus nearly 666 times. There's also the just plain awkward "Birthday Cake" that makes the most unsubtle ejaculation references ever, and, oh, um, the particularly Shakespearean "Cockiness (I Love It!)" which has this stanza:
"Suck my cockiness
Lick my persuasion
Eat my poison
And swallow your pride down, down
Place my wants and needs
Over your resistance
And then you come around
You come around
You come around"
Or how about this laughable stanza from "Watch N Learn"
"Imma do it, do it, do it
On the bed, on the floor, on the couch
Only cause your lips say make it to my mouth
Just because I can't kiss back
Doesn't mean you can't kiss that"
Yeah, sorry Rihanna but I'm not turned on.
Another problem is that the album is completely rushed and lacks continuity. It's 37 minutes long and the average track length is 3 minutes- again, not uncommon in pop today, but the problem is that it's like she just tried to make sure they were quick and effortless tunes, and they just slapped them together on a CD. The album doesn't feel like an album and more like a collection of songs. Curiously, this album feels like a mixtape- you know, those CDs artists put out where they collaborate with other artists for the duration of the record. While there's only two collaborations here, several of the tracks feel like ones you'd find on a mixtape, and thus it's really not much of an album.
Look, I love Rihanna, I really do, but after this and "Loud", she clearly needs to take a break, because she's getting to the point where she is running on fumes.