It’s good. It’s not perfect, it’s not totally brilliant, but it’s definitely good.
The whole thing feels much less ‘thrown together’ than Loud and much more cohesive in sound, but the real strength lies in the quality of (most of) the songs, which are (largely) very good indeed. Drunk On Love take’s The XX‘s best song and lathers it with beautiful lyrics and some really strong vocals. Cockiness fires relentless, filthy and unapologetic innuendo over a beat so simple it’s hard to believe it’s there at all. Where Have You Been is We Found Love done right. All three of the aforementioned tracks are, in case you hadn’t grasped, fucking amazing.
But where there are strengths, weaknesses are unavoidable. Birthday Cake powers towards being the best song on the album before cutting off abruptly two minutes too short. Watch n’ Learn is all too reminiscent of Good Girl Gone Bad’s odd one out (for all the wrong reasons): Say It. We Found Love is already noted to be far too basic for ‘Bonafide Popstar Rihanna‘. And most of the album feels like some weird bastard child of the two albums that preceeded it; there’s certainly no new ground being broken here.
And yet it is good. It is an album that is worth parting with money over. And that, I suppose, is the point. I just wish that a little more effort had been put in (by everyone involved) to ensure that Rihanna finally gets another album entirely representative of how brilliant a popstar she really is. A large part of my discontent with Talk That Talk is the second album she’s churned out in a row on which that hasn’t happened. And i’m really starting the think it never will again.
I’ll give you a 6/10 for now Rihanna. A second class honours. B-. But being a great popstar can only get you so far, and if Album Number Seven fails to be totally fantastic in every way, it won’t just be me grading you harshly – mark my words.