It’s been a while since I wrote an album review and it’s high time I cut out the laziness and got back into the groove of it.
I just could not turn my back on Rihanna‘s new album ‘Talk That Talk’, especially one as finely produced as this one. I think VH1 may have overexaggerated when they said the album is the dirtiest pop record since Madonna‘s ‘Erotica’. Rihanna certainly had her flirtatious and sexual moments here and there but the album’s main concept was love, not sex.
You Da One
(Dr. Luke, Ester Dean, Rihanna, & John Hill)
A different change of pace for Dr. Luke, often known for his trancy electropop. The urban-pop number has understated specks of dubstep but compared to the rest of the album, they could have selected a better second single. At the same time, the midtempo cut is still radio-friendly with Rihanna’s Island diction glossed over it. Still, as long as it does the job, all parties will be happy.
Where Have You Been
(Calvin Harris, Dr. Luke & Ester Dean)
Something about this track will have you acting a fool once heard on high-wattage surround sound systems. Crank up the volume and feel yourself drowning in the electronic thickness of trancy synthesizers, kick-ass bass and hard hitting tribal drums. The beat is THAT powerful, it consumes you. This will haunt the dancefloor for a long time to come and reflects exactly what ‘We Found Love’ should have been.
We Found Love (featuring Calvin Harris)
Putting much emphasis on finding love in a hopeless place, Rihanna chose to introduce the new era with the house infused electropop number. You don’t get a song more generic than this, but it did the job and is now one of the biggest songs of 2011.
Talk That Talk (feat. Jay-Z)
(Stargate, Ester Dean, Jay-Z & Diddy)
This collab may be no ‘Umbrella’ but with its prominent drum beat, Jay-Z’s mean 16 bars, and Rihanna’s Island girl swag, ‘Talk That Talk’ has the correct ingredients to sustain major chart appeal. The track contains samples from the Notorious B.I.G‘s ‘I Got A Story To Tell’.
Cockiness (Love It)
(Bangladesh, Candice Pillay, D. Loernathy & Rihanna)
Everything Bangladesh has produced recently has been an ‘A milli’ recycle including that one track he did for Beyonce. This however, still has his trademark hard edged delivery of drum machines, 808 and pumping bass but the production is very in your face and well composed. The sexual innuendo in this is genius. Of course the most standout line of all would have to be “Suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion”.
(The-Dream, Rihanna, Marcos Palacios & Ernest Clark)
Birthday cake has never sounded sexier. In fact, after listening, you might not look at one the same way again. Over pulsive synth lines, Rihanna puts that sex/food metaphor straight to work. The track is so overwhelming, it is almost a cardinal sin for it to be 90-seconds long.
We All Want Love
(Kevin Randolph, Ester Dean, Ernest Wilson & Steve Wyreman)
Rihanna sings her ballads rather well and you could hear vocal improvement here. She knows her limits and doesn’t go over what she’s capable of. The lovelorn track is lead by an acoustic guitar and then builds into a booming drum beat.
Drunk on Love
(Stargate, Ester Dean, Baria Qureshi, Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, & Jamie Smith)
It certainly wouldn’t be the first Rihanna allowed the liquor to soak up the music. The last one was about being carefree and welcoming the weekend after long days of hard work. This one is more about being intoxicated on love which she sings over massive snare drums and a little bit of synth. Love it.
Roc Me Out
(Stargate, Ester Dean, Rob Swire & Gareth McGrillen)
The same team who crafted Rihanna’s #1 Billboard Hot 100 smash ‘Rudeboy’ are the same ones who carved this one out too. And it’s very clear they put tracing paper over the production of ‘Rudeboy’ to create a recycle. Can’t say I’m mad though. ‘Rudeboy’ is a hot song and this one is just as swaggerific.
Watch N ‘Learn
(Hit-Boy, Priscilla Renea, Rihanna, & Alja Jackson)
Carnival Rihanna allows her sexual prowess to take over the Island-flavoured production. What I like about Rihanna is that, while she is now considered a pop artist, she still finds a way to incorporate her musical roots to studio recordings. Yay.
(Alex Da Kid & Ester Dean)
Rihanna reunites with ‘Love the Way You Lie’ producer Alex Da Kid for this ballad about letting someone go for the best. It’s nice and has a massive drum chorus but not as grabbing as ‘California King Bed’. That said, this was certainly a nice way to close off the album.
Standouts: Where Have You Been, Cockiness (Love It), Birthday Cake, We All Want Love, Drunk on Love, Roc Me Out, Watch N ‘Learn
Conclusion: A grittier, sexier and moodier version of ‘Loud’. There are a lot of potential hits on the album which is clearly what they were going for. Sorry naysayers. Rihanna has done it again.