Talk That Talk: Deluxe Edition
Despite sounding rushed to capitalize on fourth quarter sales, 2010s Loud proved that Rihannas reign indeed would not let up. The albums first three singles topped the Hot 100. A fourth one merely went Top Ten. Just as Loud was losing its grip, during the fourth quarter of 2011, Rihanna fired again with another number one single, We Found Love -- its success more likely due to the singers ecstatic vocal than Calvin Harris' shrill, plinky production. While Talk That Talk is built like another singles-chart-devouring machine, its both more rounded and less random than Loud. We Found Love and Where Have You Been -- the latter with a quote from Geoff Mack's Ive Been Everywhere and echoes of the chorus from Adeles Rolling in the Deep -- function as place-holding dance tracks, and there are a couple empty anthems and ballads in the drippy We All Want Love and the bombastic Farewell. Its the darker and dirty-minded material that tends to be most effective -- where Rihanna is more alive and believable, where her collaborators provide the most adventurous productions. In the Bangladesh-produced Cockiness (Love It), one of the most hypnotic and wicked beats of the last decade, Rihanna absolutely relishes the chance to sing-taunt Suck my cockiness, swallow my persuasion. Two of Stargate and Esther Dean's three contributions -- the desperate, xx-sampling Drunk on Love (Nothing can sober me up) and the prowling Roc Me Out -- pack more sleek menace than Rated R's G4L and Louds S&M. The albums best track, however, is the wholly sweet and flirtatious Watch n Learn, featuring a dizzying Hit-Boy beat -- rat-a-tat snares, swirling/swelling synthesizers, irresistible plucked melodies -- that is even more unique in the context of 2011 pop radio than his work on Kanye West and Jay-Z's Ni**as in Paris. Behind Good Girl Gone Bad and Rated R, this is Rihanna's third best album to date. Minus the fluff, it's close to the latter's equal. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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