Rihanna
ANTI


4.0
excellent

Review

by samkerner USER (8 Reviews)
January 28th, 2016 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The clamor of the album's botched release is oddly fitting.

I’m an unabashed devotee of pop music. I think there’s so much to love about that perfect pop song that just comes together effortlessly and everything fits: the verse entices, the bridge excites, the hook soars. And what better artist to eschew pop perfection than Rihanna, who up until now has been nothing short of a singles powerhouse" Like the best pop stars before her, she has effortlessly moved with the times, changing her style and her sound to stay relevant. Rihanna, who has been consistently reliable as a hit factory, has dropped her most inconsistent record, and what it lacks in obvious hooks or radio-ready structure, it makes up for in intrigue and emotion.

Throughout ANTI’s opening third-or-so, Rihanna seems to be pretty disinterested in love or pleasing anyone other than herself: think “B**** Better Have My Money,” but with more imagination and less thunder. The album starts with the brooding, SZA-assisted “Consideration,” where Rihanna proclaims “I got to do things my own way darling,” and that’s sort of a rallying cry for the rest of the album - she’s doing things her own way, the off-kilter, defiant, stoner way. The demanding “Kiss it Better” is the closest the album gets to a radio-friendly sound, and it wouldn’t be out of place on Loud, but that’s as conventional as ANTI gets. “Work” is mostly unintelligible, which is a shame, because it’s production is pretty addictive with it’s hazy, lazy synths and Caribbean hues.

ANTI moves into darker territory with “Desperado,” which sounds suspiciously like Banks’ “Waiting Game.” If gallows-pop is a thing, this is it: the synths are low and rough as Rihanna considers escaping somewhere with someone just because she doesn’t “want to be alone.” “Woo” has the potential to be the most hated track on the album, but there’s something about the ugly, discordant screeches and obnoxious autotune that’s intoxicating, even if it’s far from fun. The longest track here, “Same Ol’ Mistakes,” is a Tame Impala cover that trudges along until the song radically shifts into a new key and a lighter, more distant autotuned delivery. I was reminded of the random children’s choir insert in Kanye West’s “On Sight,” which is also a testament to how splitting up a song like that can be absolutely exhilarating.

The final third of ANTI is a slew of remarkably good ballads, especially “Higher,” which pulls a “FourFiveSeconds” and puts Rihanna’s vocals front and center. Rihanna is a capable vocalist, but she’s far from exceptional, which gives those afore-mentioned songs their power. Listening to someone really push like is enthralling, and it’s too bad “Higher” is only two minutes. Actually, this whole section of ballads is an unusually good showcase for Rihanna’s voice. I’ll be the first to say I’m usually bored by Rihanna’s balladry, but here, it’s one of the best surprises of ANTI: that Rihanna is really holding her own.

ANTI will undoubtedly be hailed as one of Rihanna’s most personal and revealing albums, particularly because of its tender final tracks. I’m not sure ANTI actually brings us much closer to who Rihanna is - I think her most emotionally transparent work, music-wise, came and went with Rated R - but, really, who cares" I’m not that interested in “authenticity” in pop music. I’m bored by questions of Rihanna the Artist vs. Rihanna™ the Team. Rihanna took a long time between Unapologetic and ANTI to establish herself as an icon, and she’s the perfect artist to take pop to somewhere dark and weird and uncomfortable. Unapologetic is actually a much more fitting title for this album than the lackluster one it adorns. If ANTI is a bit of an anticlimax from all the buildup, it’s at least a brave one.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Tunaboy45
January 28th 2016


16583 Comments


Review was a good read, I'm sure her label is pissed off right now at the disaster of a release.
Pos.

Peripes
January 28th 2016


84 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Should the Navy lobby to get a full version of Higher like they did with Birthday Cake?

LotusFlower
January 28th 2016


12001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

cant decide between a 3 and a 3.5 yet

M1CH03L
January 28th 2016


14 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Kiss it Better and Desperado are the stand outs for me so far. But overall much better than I thought it would be.

gryndstone
January 28th 2016


1171 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Agree that Rihannas ballads are usually boring, but they're pretty good here

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2016


11587 Comments


Well written review, good work

Digging: Dekagram - May Flights Of Devils Guide

wtferrothorn
January 28th 2016


5798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

really enjoy the 2nd half more than the 1st, that batch of ballads is really good.

Cygnatti
January 28th 2016


32632 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh man im excited

Tyler.
January 28th 2016


15412 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

so am i tbh

wtferrothorn
January 28th 2016


5798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

cant decide between a 3 and a 3.5 yet [2]

anarchistfish
January 28th 2016


26701 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

is there anything here as good as umbrella

anarchistfish
January 28th 2016


26701 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

also anywhere non-hassle to stream this?

wtferrothorn
January 28th 2016


5798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

eh, Kiss It Better, Love On The Brain, and Higher could give Umbrella a run for its money. idk if they're better than it yet.



Also she was giving free downloads but those ran out, the only legal stream I know of is on Tidal (lol).

anarchistfish
January 28th 2016


26701 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

piracy it is

anarchistfish
January 28th 2016


26701 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

that was easy :D

someguest
January 28th 2016


29865 Comments


Stealing an album is like fucking the village whore.

Don't lick your download.

wtferrothorn
January 28th 2016


5798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ok yeah this drags a bit too much in the middle to deserve a 3.5, but the first 3 tracks and the last 4 make this worth revisiting

LotusFlower
January 28th 2016


12001 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The chorus for Kiss it Better is amazing.

LaughingSkull
January 29th 2016


599 Comments


I don't care much about Rihanna, but review is well written, so pos.

What's that thing about the album's botched release though?

wtferrothorn
January 29th 2016


5798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Tidal accidentally released the album too early, and later they just decided to release it officially. Also Rihanna was givin' out free downloads, but that's over now.



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