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Rihanna's 6th Album Does Not Disappoint (Too Much)!
on January 2, 2012
When it comes to music sales, it's a fairly obvious fact that a large percentage of those sales occur within the first week of release. With that in mind, one can conclude that most members of Rihanna's Navy have gotten their hands on a copy of "Talk That Talk" by now. As for everyone else, whether you are a casual Rihanna fan or have been too busy to pick up this CD, you are most likely reading reviews of people expressing their various thoughts and opinions of Rihanna's latest musical effort. I'll get straight to the point- while I do consider myself a fan of Rihanna's work, I have to admit that some of my expectations were not met. For the most part however, I thoroughly enjoyed this album and I will be listing to it for a long time.
I hate to restate the obvious, but this is clearly Rihanna's most sexual album to date. If "Loud" was about sex, then, by comparison, "Talk That Talk" would be about a group orgy in the campaign offices of a GOP nominee. Not every song is about sex, however; there are also a few songs about love and acceptance in the form of mid tempos, ballads, and even dance tracks.
"You Da One" opens the album with Rihanna singing about a man she's allegedly in love with. In case you haven't already heard this on the radio, this is a mid tempo track with an uplifting mood. This is not a bad way to start the album, and makes the song a reasonable choice for a second single. The bridge of the song features a dub-step breakdown and Rihanna teases "You shouldn't have hit it like that, [you shouldn't have] had me yelling like that." The incorporation of dup-step was somewhat predictable given the current `trend' in radio music, but in this case, the breakdown does not necessarily detract from the song.
"Where Have You Been" was unpleasant at first, but I have to confess it has grown on me quite a bit. Similar to "We Found Love", it features only a few lines of lyrics that repeat during each verse. I really appreciate how this dance song seems to build up to a climax, but I don't appreciate how that climax is disrupted by out-of-place synthesizers after the chorus.
"We Found Love" is a beautiful dance anthem. The production on the vocals gives the song an `out in space and happy about it' feeling, which works very well with the music. My only complaints are from the techno build up sessions. Once again, I feel that they are out-of-place in this song. Such production would be more suitable for an `Ultra Techno Dance Remix'. In my opinion, the techno breakdowns don't do the album version any favors.
As the title track, "Talk That Talk" reinforces the overall sexual theme of the album. This song features Jay-Z's vocals in the beginning, hence a more prominent Hip-Hop sound. This song would have benefited from an additional Rihanna verse, as I feel it seems a bit unfinished.
If you thought "S&M" was inappropriate for the radio, you may want to cover your ears right about now. The opening verse for the song "Cockiness" sounds something like this: "I want you to be my sex slave". The rest of the song is not very subtle either. In fact, "Cockiness" is easily the most sexually explicit song on the album which does not (yet) boast an `explicit' tag in mp3 music stores. Regardless, it is definitely a musical highlight of the album and one of my favorite songs thus far.
I have a major problem with "Birthday Cake". I don't understand why this couldn't have been a full length song, or at least a few seconds longer. By comparison, the "Mad House" track from "Rated R" feels like a more complete song despite being a minute-and-a-half long. Furthermore, it was definitely an odd choice to place "Birthday Cake" after "Cockiness" in the track listing.
The album changes pace rapidly with "We All Want Love". As the title may suggest, this song is showing Rihanna's `softer' side. Judging by the lyrics, Rihanna has adopted a very optimistic view on love and relationships. The echoing production on the vocals works well with the instrumentation, giving the song a very ambient and relaxing sound.
"Drunk On Love" seems to tell a different story about love. Rihanna sings "I've been let down, but never been tainted so I stay thirsty for more." She later bellows "I wear my heart on my sleeve, always let love take the lead," and she concludes that she is effectively `drunk on love'. Her voice is more emotional on this track and the echoing drums give the song a haunting sound.
Just as quickly as things slowed down, they pick back up again with "Roc Me Out". This is definitely a hybrid between "Rude Boy" and "Rockstar 101" from a previous Rihanna album. Again, she teases things like: "I've been a bad girl, daddy," and "I'll show you my dirty secrets". Unfortunately, I feel like there is something missing from this song. It seems a little bland to me.
"Watch N Learn" continues the stream of sexually charged lyrics. Thankfully, this song features an extremely catchy pre-chorus, and Rihanna sings with her `deeper' voice during certain parts of the song. You can also hear her native accent, though it's not nearly as strong as it was on "Man Down". Finally, the lyrics: "Just because it can't kiss back, doesn't mean you can't kiss that" mark the third song in which Rihanna mentions `eating out'. (But seriously, who's counting?)
The standard version of the album comes to a rather quick ending with the ballad "Farewell". This song is lyrically interesting because it may have a broad interpretation. It could refer to a lover, a family member, or simply a friend who is moving away "to make a better life". In my opinion, this is another stand-out track on the album.
If you purchased the Deluxe Edition, you receive three additional tracks that fit almost seamlessly after the original album. "Red Lipstick" gives off a scary, dark, yet sexy mood. Assuming you have been listening to the album the whole way through, you should not be too surprised when you hear the line: "Let me grab my <<<rooster>>> while you sit on top".
Musically, "Do Ya Thang" sounds like it could have been on Beyoncé's recent album. Lyrically, Rihanna describes an interesting relationship with her partner. Personally, I feel the lyrics describe a polyamorous relationship, or `friends with benefits' as the youngins like to call it. Obviously, different people may interpret the same song differently, so I would suggest listening to this track for yourself before drawing any conclusions.
The album takes a serious turn one final time with "Fool In Love". Basically, Rihanna has fallen in love with someone whom her parents disapprove of. She sings: "Papa, are you ashamed of how your little girl turned out?" Once again, this song is open to some interpretation regarding who (or what) Rihanna may have `fallen in love with'. Musically, this track reminds me a little bit of "Drunk On Love".
As a whole, Talk That Talk differs from Rihanna's previous albums. It is clearly her most sexually driven album, and it has more upbeat songs that many fans have been clamoring for. The album is certainly a fun ride, although in my opinion, some of the songs would have performed better on the re-release of "Loud". *cough cough* We Found Love *cough*. Furthermore, a couple of the songs seem unfinished. *cough* Birthday Cake *chronic coughing* Nevertheless, Rihanna has refueled the dying music industry for the third year in a row, and this album is sure to please most of her fans. Consequently, it will be sure to offend the same people who hated "Erotica" about 20 years ago. (Thumbs down if that reminded you how old you are.)