In a swanky studio in Notting Hill, Entertainmentwise were among a handful of lucky listeners treated to an advance listen of Rihanna’s forthcoming album Talk That Talk.
With the (unsurprising) general message being that RiRi just wants a man to play with, TTT is one of the filthiest pop records of the year. With big production lathered left, right and centre, and that unique Rihanna attitude in no short supply, it sounds on first listen like it could also be one of the best.
Here’s our track-by-track analysis:
1. ‘You Da One’ – Confirmed for release as the second single, ‘You Da One’ is an effortlessly cool urban pop song that will sound great on the radio. It’s a perfect blend of Dr Luke’s (Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Britney) pop production and Rihanna’s signature attitude.
2. ‘Where Have You Been’ – Arguably the best song on the album, this dancefloor-oriented anthem really hits its stride when everything kicks off about a minute in and it suddenly starts to sound like a remix of itself.
3. ‘We Found Love’ (feat. Calvin Harris) – “Lighter” than the first two tracks, ‘We Found Love’ is that airwave-invading smash hit that not only shows a post-’S&M’ softer side to RiRi but a rather euphoric side to Calvin Harris’ knob-twiddling abilities as well.
4. ‘Talk That Talk’ (feat. Jay-Z) – Not too dissimilar to Rated R highlight ‘Hard’, ‘Talk That Talk’ isn’t as hands-in-the-air amazing as the three tracks before it, but with an assured rap from Jay-Z it’s almost certain to be a single at some point.
5. ‘Cockiness (Love It)’ – Kicking off with the lyric “I want you to be my sex slave”, ‘Cockiness’ is the ‘S&M’/’Rude Boy’ of Talk That Talk. A track that could easily have come from Britney Spears’ Blackout era, its filthy urban flavour means the record has progressed from club-dance to hip-hop in the space of five songs.
6. ‘Birthday Cake’ – A brief interlude that lasts just over a minute, ‘Birthday Cake’ doesn’t really add much. It may as well have either been full-length or not included at all, but as it is, it’s a well produced blast that follows on nicely from ‘Cockiness’.
7. ‘We All Want Love’ – Suddenly we’re back to Rihanna’s softer side, and despite a catchy “We all, we all, we all, we all…” chorus, the track doesn’t particularly stand out as a classic on first listen. In fact, it sounds a tad out of place.
8. ‘Drunk On Love’ – Making great use of a sample from The xx’s ‘Intro’, ‘Drunk On Love’ is dark, mesmerising, and not at all lacking in the massive beats department. Great vocals, too.
9. ‘Roc Me Out’ – Lyrically, ‘Roc Me Out’ is yet another provocative, horny-as-hell club-ready floorfiller; but a killer production keeps it just the right side of average.
10. ‘Watch’n’Learn’ – There’s a strange Disney-like riff going on in the background here, but it doesn’t particularly help the song become a standout. Rihanna’s very good at being a confident, flirtatious ball-buster, but ‘W’n’L’ doesn’t particularly give us anything we haven’t heard countless times before.
11. ‘Farewell’ – A giant, no-emotions-barred ballad, ‘Farewell’ is a great example of a confident lady being left more than a little vulnerable by a broken heart, and with a speaker-bursting chorus it ends the Standard Edition on a cracking high.
12. ‘Red Lipstick’ (Deluxe Edition) – Chase and Status’ dubstep-influenced production is cool, but the track doesn’t particularly “go” anywhere, and, oddly, Rihanna herself doesn’t add anything whatsoever to their instrumental arrangement.
13. ‘Do Your Thing’ (Deluxe Edition) – Randy Vixen Rihanna takes a breather for ‘Do Your Thing’, and we get a rare glimpse of Sweet Loving Rihanna instead. For that reason, the song is a pretty decent hip hop flavoured pop treat. But if we’re being really picky, it’s hardly a modern classic.
14. ‘Fool In Love’ (Deluxe Edition) – Not your typical kitchen-sink-style Dr Luke affair, ‘Fool In Love’ is, like ‘Farewell’, a big, bold and pretty dark heartstring-tugger, and brings the album to a close on a memorable note.
Talk That Talk is out on November 21st.
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