I wasn't really that a big of a fan of Rihanna's last album Loud. Loved some of the singles like Only Girl (In the world) and S and M, as well as the sexy album cut Skin, but for me it had it's fingers in too many musical pies to really be considered an album of real merit. Well, Rihanna seems to have learnt her lesson in that year away from the studio, and has returned more focused and confident on Talk that Talk.
Lyrically this album is smut central, with sexually charged lyrics that put S and M to shame abundant throughout. Whereas other Divas have felt insincere and exploitive when they've tackled sexually charged material, this route actually feels very natural for Rihanna.
The dirty lyrics may be a turn-off to many a listener but it sure sounds good over the dirty, sleazy sounding production that can be found on title track Talk that Talk, Arabian sounding Birthday Cake, 80's inspired Rock Me Out and island influenced, grind-tastic Watch N learn.
There are less sexually charged moments too, like the number one smash We Found love, or the The XX's sampled Drunk On Love, but the lack of perverseness is replaced by a darker, bitter sweet undertone.
If you are looking for the tracks that aren't going to turn your cheeks red, or the air blue, then head straight to the brilliant Where Have You Been, which manages to cleverly intertwine the melody and lyrics of the country classic, I've Been Everywhere with a swirling contemporary club sound. Or, if you miss the more poppier side of Rihanna, look to You Da One. A fun, light and bouncy love song that brings back memoires of a younger, more innocent Rihanna... Well if you ignore some of the saucier innuendo.
Vocally, Rihanna has never been stronger: high chest notes- Drunk on love- held notes-Where Have You Been, Farewell- vocal variation-Watch N Learn, Birthday Cake-and an overall air of confidence permeates this project. Though many deride her abilities Rihanna is actually becoming quite the vocalist, and whereas her contemporary, Britney Spears, stopped building on her unique tone, Rihanna's fire has pushed her to constantly hone and improve her instrument. There even rumours that Rihanna hits her highest note ever on one of the deluxe edition's songs.
Conclusion: Sex no doubt sells, but with Rihanna's Talk That Talk it doesn't feel like that's what the intention was for her heading so boldly in this direction on the album. Instead, it feels like a natural progression of an edgy 23 year old who's intent on pushing the boundaries of pop music in her own way. Talk That Talk is not going to change the world, or even your life, but its a brilliant collection of single worthy songs that are sure to insure Rihanna keeps hitting that number 1 spot. Mariah, watch out!!
Download: You Da One, Where Have You Been,Birthday Cake.