Pop sensation Rihanna released her sixth album, entitled “Talk That Talk”, on November 21.
It’s been less than seven years since the Barbadian bombshell released her now-often-forgotten debut single “Pon de Replay” when she was just 17 years old. Since then, she has released 11 Billboard Hot 100 number one singles. (By comparison, Beyonce and Britney Spears both have 5 to their credit, Lady Gaga 3). She’s sold more than 20 million albums and 60 million singles worldwide, with songs like “Umbrella”, “Disturbia”, and “Only Girl (In the World)” becoming inescapable radio sensations.
Both “Rated R”, the singer’s 2009-released fourth album, and Loud, the singer’s 2010-released fifth album, were marked as a departure from her earlier releases. In the wake of her 2009 domestic violence case with Chris Brown, these two albums featured wounded lyrical subtexts. Critics loved Rihanna’s new side, and these albums brought her continued commercial success.
Perhaps it’s because of that continued commercial success across various images that “Talk That Talk” sounds like an aimless rehash of old beats. The playful subtexts of the singer’s first three albums are long gone, and the wounded subtexts of her fourth and fifth albums, too, are gone. Instead, this album loses any subtlety and moves flat out towards dependence on sexual themes.
“Talk That Talk” starts off with its first single, “We Found Love”, a radio favorite now for two months. For this track, Rihanna recruited Scottish DJ Calvin Harris, whose production completely outshines anything Rihanna might add to the track. Though this track initially seemed innocent enough, the song’s music video became one of the most controversially-themed pop events of 2011.
After “We Found Love”, one finds themselves listening to a steady stream of R-rated rehashes. “You Da One”, the album’s recently-released second single, over-sexualizes the Caribbean style of “Pon de Replay”. Title track “”Talk That Talk””, a collaboration with Jay-Z, fails miserably at capturing what made the duo’s “Umbrella” collaboration become one of the most critically-acclaimed commercially viable pop songs of this millennium.
By the time one reaches the album’s fifth track, “Cockiness (Love It)”, they’re only a third of the way through the album. But while the crassness of hits like “Rude Boy” and “S&M” earlier proved themselves catchy in a somewhat uncomfortable way, the crassness of most of “Talk That Talk” has completely lost any interest value, and thereby becomes incredibly monotonous.
Rihanna’s die-hard fans will likely find enough to make the album a worthwhile listening experience. But, whereas Loud recently was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, this album provides little stimulant for any casual listeners to cross over to Rihanna fan.