Just over a year after releasing Loud, Rihanna is back again with a new album. This time, the pop superstar is more confident than ever.
The first half of Talk that Talk is pure fire. “You Da One”, a collaboration with hitmaker Dr. Luke, is easily the most accessible song on the record. It’s a nice track that sets the tone for the album.
With “Where Have You Been”, the party officially starts. From the simple first verse up to the anthemic chorus, “Where Have You Been” hits all the right spots. Even the small instrumental break between the choruses work to move the song along to the next level. This track is easily one of Rihanna’s best, and I do expect radio (and club-goers) to eat this up.
“We Found Love”, the monstrous lead single, is a nice contrast from “Where Have You Been”. Whereas the latter is a dance-y track with some complex production, the former is a house-infused track that keeps it simple. It’s the kind of song that you find yourself eventually singing along with.
“Talk That Talk” is the highlight of the album though. The track, which brings Rihanna back with mentor Jay-Z, is everything you’d want from an urban track: infectious beat, catchy lyrics, and a badass production. The song is reminiscent of Beyoncé’s “Upgrade You” but with a lot more street cred. Only Rihanna could have delivered this song.
The next two tracks after are, to put it simply, filthy. In “Cockiness”, Rihanna talks about eating, but not the kind of food you’d want to give your kids. With confidence, she demands:
“Suck my cockiness, eat my frustration”.
“Birthday Cake” has the same feel as “Cockiness”, but it’s just a short interlude. Somewhere, a complete version of this song is out there and Rihanna’s army would give anything to get their hands on it, I’m sure.
Unfortunately, the party ends after the first half. “We All Want Love” is a nice melodic pop track, but it’s kind of a mood killer. After the raunchy two tracks immediately before this, “We All Want Love” ends up sounding a bit too sugary and fluffy.
“Drunk on Love” and “Roc Me Out” attempt to bring the sexy mood back, but it’s really over after this. Even with its lyrics (“Imma do it do it do it, On the bed on the floor on the couch”), “Watch and Learn” ends up sounding a bit tame compared to the first tracks of the album.
“Farewell” is the lone ballad of the album. It’s another nice track that is meant to please pop listeners, but frankly, it’s a little too forgettable.
Rihanna could have easily made a cohesive album with Talk That Talk. But the existence of a few fillers really hurt the flow and the concept of the album. If “Red Lipstick”, a track on the deluxe edition of the album, replaced “We Found Love”, for instance, this could have been the badass pop album of the year.
That said, Talk That Talk is definitely one of Rihanna’s best, probably just rivaling the flawless Rated R. And with at least 5 sure hits on this album, Rihanna’s reign isn’t about to let up. I’m still hoping for a cohesive album from Rihanna, but for now, Talk That Talk is a nice continuation of her monstrous Loud era.