Review Summary: Rihanna finally embraces her bad girl persona, and witht the help of the electronic/dance-pop boom of 2011, makes her most fun album since Good Girl Gone Bad.
Pop's latest diva, Rihanna, has learned to be comfortable in her own skin. 2010's "Loud" attempted to show Rihanna was in charge, and just wanted to have fun. While the #1 hits "Only Girl In the World" and "What's My Name" proved that, and "S&M" showed Rihanna liked getting down and dirty, Loud still had the dark undercurrents of "Rated R", and S&M went under the Madonna "So sexy,it's scary" file, and not much fun, either. With 2011's "Talk That Talk", she goes even deeper into the dance and dubstep grooves pop stars like Britney Spears use. But while Britney used Dubstep and Electropop to background her songs, Rihanna combines them with hip hop beats and pop melodies that her unabashed sex appeal more... well appealing, than Loud. The title track, "You Da One", incorporate the dancehall and reggae beats Rihanna was imersed with before she was a superstar. The standout tracks, "Where Have You Been" and "We Found Love" may not present Rihanna as a dance diva, but find her finally moving past the hip-pop background of previous albums. When her sexuality seems the ost important theme, that is when Talk That Talk falters. The twin short dissaointments, "Cockiness (Love It)" and "Birthday Cake" clock in at just 4 minutes, and while the electronics remain the album's backbone, it breaks down due to the song's lyrical letdowns. Talk That Talk's hip hop tunes brings the album to a slump with the title track that only picks up with its dance-pop breakdown, and "Roc Me Out" is S&M Part 2, nothing more, nothing less. However, the album becomes a great listen when Rihanna goes beyond the norm. The album's softer moments, "We All Want Love" and "Drunk On Love" may be mirror images of Rihanna's two previous CD's, but the mix of Rock, Pop, and Dance is the refreshing sound Rihanna needed. "Watch N' Learn" mixes Black Eyed Peas-like hip hop dance with sultry lyrics that flow, not stick together. The closer, "Farewell," is a relaxing end to an album with as many highs as lows, but if Rihanna had to go through everything personally and artistically to finally have a little fun, then she can Talk That Talk as much as she wants.
Hmmm. This album has some great singles. Ultimately, I find it to be rushed. I agree that Birthday Cake is a joke, seeing as I don't even understand why it's here. However, I love the dirty lyrics and bass hits of Cockiness. Roc Me Out is fun, and reminds me of the versatility Rihanna can bring when she chooses.
I found Loud to have high replay value and solid songwriting. But this album, while it seems to want to want to be a mix between the previous three albums, I think it only succeeds in the dance aspects that made Good Girl so infectious.
Ultimately, I don't find it to be a bad album, but about half of it is filler. I usually skip Birthday Cake and go straight to Roc Me Out, then turn it off after that.