A lot of things can be said about Rihanna’s music but you can’t fault her ability to be commercially successful. That doesn’t necessarily mean her music is impressive or groundbreaking, one can argue about Rude Boy‘s lyrics or whether One Girl In The World and Who’s That Chick are too alike, but no one can fault the capacity of these songs to sell, and not only to sell but to become dance floor favourites. On top of all, Rihanna is an expert on consistently releasing single after single (on a roll, she just never stops) and to somehow never fail to release a catchy song. We Found Love, the single that opens Talk That Talk‘s promotion, is no exception, and You Da One, is the perfect follow-up. Both songs are hooking from the start, one because of its dance background, the other one for that Jamaican flavour Rihanna loves to experiment with (see: Rude Boy, Man Down).
If I had to fault Talk That Talk though, and I do, It’d have to mention the lack of personality of the album as a whole. Just like it happened with Loud and, to less extent, with Good Girl Gone Bad, the album is an amalgam of sounds, beats, producers and styles that somehow don’t make sense all together. There’s no general theme to the album and no feeling of solidity, not on the sound, not on the lyrics, not on the tracks’ quality. The album goes from very good (We Found Love, You Da One, Talk That Talk, Roc Me Out) to honestly quite bad (Cockiness, Birthday Cake, Watch N Learn), through a middle ground (Where Have You Been, We All Want Love, Drunk On Love, Farewell). The ‘sexy’ songs are surprisingly explicit, not that Rihanna hasn’t been raunchy before, but Cockiness or Watch n’ Learn are an ode to the bite, lick and suck. Farewell is the only real ballad on the album, but it doesn’t cut it like California King Bed did. Where have You Been seems like is trying to recreate the Afrojack remix of Who’s That Chick, but it doesn’t really ‘happen’.
While I’m sure everyone appreciates Rihanna’s continuous work, I for one wouldn’t mind waiting a bit more for the next album (it doesn’t feel like we had to wait at all for this one) as long as it means a raise in the quality of the music. Talk That Talk is a decent album, but Rihanna can do it so much better than this.
Listen to: You Da One, We Found Love, Roc Me Out, Farewell, Where Have You Been