Release Date: Nov 21, 2011
Record label: Def Jam
Genre(s): Pop, R&B, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Contemporary R&B
Four years and 10 huge hits ago, Rihanna released an album called Good Girl Gone Bad. She's never gone back. Today, Rihanna is pop's bad-girl-in-chief. You could call her the heir to the blues tradition of double-entendre salaciousness, except that, in Rihanna's songs, double-entendres are dispensed with.
Rihanna's sixth album is a blast of obnoxious, filth-fuelled pop. Coming only a year after Loud, everything has been turned up, then up again, from its steroidal Ibiza synths to the smutty innuendo – clearly she's decided that S&M's whips and chains were a little on the tame side. So there are exhortations to eat her cake (she doesn't mean cake!) and to lick her persuasion (she doesn't mean persuasion!), although sometimes the metaphors disappear with a laughable shrug, as on Birthday Cake: "Ooh, I want to fuck you right now.
Enough with the chains and whips already. Ever since 2009’s Rated R, the relentlessly dark, blood-on-your-hands record she released after being assaulted by her then boyfriend Chris Brown, Rihanna, 23, has equated falling for someone with feeling tortured. On last year’s LOUD, she even tried to make pain seem empowering with the hard-pounding single ”S&M.” But between ”Love the Way You Lie,” a domestic-violence saga played out with Eminem, and ”Man Down,” a ragga-tinged murder ballad, she just sounded like she needed a hug.
It always used to be said – often by the artist himself, as it happens – that James Brown was The Hardest Working Man In Show Business. Following Brown’s passing, that title is now presumably up for grabs, but there can be little argument as to who The Hardest Working Woman In Show Business is currently. Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty released her fifth studio album, Loud, just over twelve months ago and is already back with another record of original material: Talk That Talk.
Despite sounding rushed to capitalize on fourth quarter sales, 2010’s Loud proved that Rihanna’s reign indeed would not let up. The album’s first three singles topped the Hot 100. A fourth one merely went Top Ten. Just as Loud was losing its grip, during the fourth quarter of 2011, Rihanna fired again with another number one single, “We Found Love” -- its success more likely due to the singer’s ecstatic vocal than Calvin Harris' shrill, plinky production.
Rihanna has come a long way from her bubble gum pop start. She emerged from the abyss of second-tier R&B divas and became a bonafide rock star, dominating the market alongside an unstoppable King Beyoncé. With every dramatic haircut, she’s shed more clothes and inhibition, and her signature sound has become darker and moodier. She’s now cranked out 20 singles that have landed on the Billboard 100 Top 10 singles, faster than Madonna nabbed her slew of Top 10’s.
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, Loud…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.
"We found love in a hopeless place." Over a frantic, Calvin Harris-produced, Guetta-meets-"Sandstorm" beat on her sixth record's lead-off single, Rihanna repeats these words almost 20 times. "We Found Love" ranks among Ri's best singles because it recognizes that there's not much more that needs to be said: in three and a half minutes, the line moves from being a great pop lyric to a triumphant mantra to something suggestive of a whole spectrum of unspoken emotion. The best pop music transports you to somewhere beyond words, and Rihanna's strongest singles all seem to be in on this secret.
Does Rihanna ever take a day off? Besides singing hooks on every major rapper's single and constantly touring, she cranks out an album a year, even if that means recording in the tour bus. To her credit, Talk That Talk doesn't come across like a rush job pumped out between sound checks and hotel check-ins. It's actually more solid than last year's inconsistent Loud.
Thanks in part to No 1 "We Found Love", in which Riri goes raving with Calvin Harris, the Bajan artist's sixth album sees her reborn as a nihilist romantic and lover of adult themes. While never shy of promoting her sexual liberation in the past (see "S&M", "Push up on Me"), here she's based an entire album around it. To wit: "Suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion" on the otherwise brilliant "Cockiness (Love It)".
Though only six years into her music career and 23 years into her life, Rihanna tallied off her 20th Top 10 hit with her single “We Found Love” last month. In doing so, she wrested a record away from Madonna, though the fully qualified feat “most Top 10 singles from a solo artist in the shortest period of time” confirms only what every person with a working radio already knows: There's no escaping Rihanna. This is the third November in as many years to see a new Rihanna album, and like both Rated R and Loud before it, Talk That Talk is an efficient singles vehicle, though one so disposable it only merits a physical incarnation so it can be stuffed under Christmas trees as part of the industry's annual fourth-quarter cash-grab.
Barbadian pop princess Rihanna‘s latest album, Talk That Talk, is her sixth since her 2005 debut, Music of the Sun. It also happens to be her second album in the span of a year, following last November’s highly-lauded Loud. Rare is the artist who can return from a hit so quickly, yet Rihanna has done so rather fluidly. So, then, what does Talk That Talk do as a release to further her reign? How does it continue Rihanna’s journey toward total pop mastery hot off the heels of powerhouse Loud? If anything, it’s an album that merely perpetuates, without enhancing, the Rihanna narrative, rendering ear-catchingly awesome cuts and flop-tastic sonic duds alike.
Talk That Talk opens as if it had started somewhere else, “You Da One” fading into existence mid-performance and then catching us up on the particulars. Which is a bit of a clever move on the part of Rihanna’s producers, considering we’re seven years into her career and haven’t had a moment to escape her voice since her tumultuous 2008, and even then somebody somewhere was queuing up “Umbrella” on your favorite bar’s jukebox. These days Rihanna is spoon-fed into our ears as regularly as a morning cup of coffee, almost as if without her the pop culture side of our lives would be void.
Distinctionlessness has become something of a calling card and a weapon for Rihanna, the most consistent pop star of the last five years. Last month she became the fastest solo artist in history to have had 20 Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, slower only than the Beatles. And she has pumped out these hits with little regard for style or mood — breezy dance tracks rub up against poignant, gothically ruptured rock-soul ballads.
Drearily sexual lyricism over showy but shallow production dominates RiRi’s sixth LP. Mike Diver 2011 An artist experiencing diminishing returns since 2009’s startling reinvention album Rated R – from victim to victorious in one long-player – Rihanna’s latest can’t stop the rot that set in with the mixed messages of 2010’s Loud. Not that said set was poor – it just failed to match the pop highs of the Umbrella-packing Good Girl Gone Bad and Rated R’s darker tones.