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Rihanna, ‘Talk That Talk’ – Album Review

Rihanna
IDJ

Rihanna is no shrinking violet, nor is she a lovelorn balladeer. She’s pop music’s oversexed alpha female, and she’s not going to shut up about them on her new album, ‘Talk That Talk.’

And why should she? Just look at the standard version’s cover. She’s sticking her tongue out and batting her lashes. It screams “Sex!”

So it should go without saying that RiRi blurs the line between pop and soft porn, eschewing confectionery pop music fluff in favor of hard beats and harder words. RiRi goes hardcore, mixing good-girl-gone-bad lyrics with beats that simulate the rhythmic motion of love. And she does all this while exploring her island roots and Barbados upbringing, incorporating tropical percussion and vocal cadences throughout.

Overall, ‘Talk That Talk’ is a sexy, sexual record. In anyone else’s hands (and voice), it would become stale, tired and boring. Rihanna makes it fresh and appealing on every single song.

1. ‘You Da One’:
She channels her island influences right off the bat, thanks to a reggae beat and her vocal pattern. Here, Rihanna is celebrating a loving relationship where she also has a lot of satisfying sex. [Listen here]

2.’Where Have You Been’:
This is RiRi at her most dancey and electro. The song comes complete with its staccato beat and it should lure you to the dance floor and keep you there.

3. ‘We Found Love’:
This is Rihanna’s 11th No. 1 hit. It embeds in your skull, thanks to the Euro-inspired melody and that vocal hook where RiRi decries “We found love in a hopeless place.” She never said the act lovin’ was easy. But getting us to love her songs? Very easy. [Listen here]

4. ‘Talk That Talk’  Feat. Jay-Z:
The title track kicks of with a circus organ melody line and then her mentor Jay-Z dishes out. This is more reminiscent of early RiRi fare, but it’s not ‘Umbrella, Part 2.’ There’s computerized beats that sorta sound like R2D2 of ‘Star Wars’ that abound, and once again, she’s begging for more sex, saying, “Love it when you talk that talk to me.” Yes, she means dirty talk. [Listen here]

5. ‘Cockiness (Love It)’ :
RiRi sings “I want you to be my sex slave” with that now-signature reggae vocal pattern, but she also executes the song with little Beyonce-style R&B diva flair. It’s another suggestive romp, with the “I love it when you eat it” part being looped. When she sings “Suck my cockiness and lick my persuasion,” it’s thinly veiled. Thin. And Rated X. No one under 17 admitted without parents.

6. ‘Birthday Cake’ :
When the word “cake” is repeated, it sounds like, well, another word she said earlier. Rihanna is about as subtle as being smacked in the face with a crowbar, and she remains breathy and assertive.

7. ‘We All Want Love’:
Her vulnerable ballad, this song reminds us of her early single ‘Take a Bow,’ with its shimmery tone. A couple of her bigger vocal notes sound Bey-influenced, too. The song has a near-epic quality thanks to the layered harmonies.

8. ‘Drunk on Love’ :
In this steely, moody song, RiRi calls herself a hopeless romantic and says she wears her heart on her sleeve. It’s the song on ‘Talk That Talk’ where she shows off the most range. She can sing, but nothing can sober her up.

9. ‘Roc Me Out’ :
It’s not a “roc” song and yes, “roc” is a euphemism for something else she talks about. It’s more hip-hop in structure and with the escalating sonic tension, RiRi positions herself as a lyrical dominatrix not afraid to ask for what she wants and take it.

10. ‘Watch ‘n’ Learn’:
For a few minutes, Ri turns in an upbeat, almost sugary song. Again, it sounds like Beyonce, but then she gets sassy trashy and talks (that talk) about sexing it up on the floor, in the bed, etc.

11. ‘Farewell’ :
She closes the standard edition with a big, beautiful ballad. The hardcore album ends on a note of hope — and she is more romantic and softer, as she blunts the sex talk. Maybe this song will be the bridge to a kindler, gentler, less sexual Rihanna on her next album.

Deluxe Edition Songs:

12. Red Lipstick: Rihanna samples Metallica on this dirty, dubstep jam. The beats are as dirty as her mouth and that’s two very good things. [Listen Here]

13. ‘Do Ya Thing’:
This bouncy, uptempo number sounds like it could be the soundtrack to an MTV reality show set in Orange County, where the sun always shines and everyone is beautiful but crazy. It’s much more tame than the rest of this hormonal album.

14. ‘Fool in Love’:
Ri opens the song by bellowing, “Mama, I found a man,” which made us think of Queen‘s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Britney Spears’ ‘Criminal’ at once. We know — that thought could stop the world from spinning on its axis. But only Ri could make that juxtaposition work. Nevertheless, it’s a rhapsodic song, with RiRi celebrating finding a man despite familial disapproval.

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