Album Review: Rihanna's 'Loud' is pop proud
After 'Rated R,' this dance-pop proves again to be the Barbadian singer's forte
The era of Rihanna's "recovery" seems to be over. To take from Kanye West's forthcoming album title, the Barbadian singer had her dark, twisted side exposed earlier this year with "Rated R," and with in her appearance on Eminem's hit "Love the Way You Lie" from his "Recovery"; but now we've gotten to the beautiful, fantastical part, with "Loud."
What redeems this 11-song set most is Rihanna's vocal extremes. From her rumbling West Indian accent pasted all over playful "Man Down" and Avril Lavigne-sampling "Cheers (Drink to That)," to the scrunched-nose naugtiness of "S&M" and "Skin" to the vulnerable "Complicated." Aside from her idiosyncratic "ehs," the 22-year-old continues to mature as a premiere pop vocalist, recognizable in her own tracks and in those of her cohorts.
Young Money stars Nicki Minaj and Drake make appearances, with the former on the addictive-like-sugar "Raining Men" and the latter on second single "What's My Name." Drizzy's contribution could be easily shrugged off, but that '90s dance mix synth line won't be easily forgotten.
Some songs are written paper thin and applied unevenly, like the lyrically flimsy "Fading" and "Complicated" or the elementarily useless "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)," with Eminem back for the reprise like a greedy Hollywood sequel. And then there's the wild range of tracks -- first single "Only Girl (In the World)" will easily fill the floors at gay dance clubs while "Raining Men" has enough elements to get long-play at urban radio. Production team Stargate was behind the first two singles and the likely third ("S&M") -- but that seems to be the only fount of sonic consistency.
But no doubt, whatever radio station or club the hits end up, hits are hits, and this album is chock full of 'em. Rihanna has returned to what she does best and expanded upon them, opening up her lungs, screaming, then laughing about it. This is the year's real pop music "Recovery."
"Loud" is out today (Nov. 16).
News From Our Partners
- The Telefile - The Most Heinous Person on Reality TV This Week The Telefile - Does Someone Have to Go?: Work Sucks.... If You Are On This Show The Telefile - Save Me: Lightning Strikes NBC
- Baz Luhrmann Passed on Directing 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' Someone Just Paid $1.5 Million to Sit Next to Leonardo DiCaprio in Space Tim Curry Is Fine After Suffering a Massive Stroke: Report
- Hear This: “Second Best” reflects a pivotal moment all serious bands face Watch This: The wages and the fear remain high in William Friedkin’s Sorcerer Cannes Film Festival: Cannes 2013, Day Nine: James Gray and Joaquin Phoenix reteam for a compelling period drama
- What to Watch This Weekend: Orphan Black, Behind the Candelabra, and Arrested Development's Netflix Debut Do These Four New Arrested Development Clips Get You Excited for the Show's Return? (VIDEO) Arrested Development Q&A: Alia Shawkat on Maeby, the Return of the Show, and the Canonization of Mitch Hurwitz
- Would You Rather… Hang Backstage with One Direction or the Jonas Brothers? Watch Kesha Perform 'Machine Gun Love' Live See Pictures of Your Favorite Celebrity Couples Now + Then
- Will Smith Raps 'Fresh Prince' Theme with Jaden, Dances "Carlton" and "Apache" with Alfonso Ribiero 'Sons of Anarchy' Season 6: Kurt Sutter to Launch 'Talking Dead'-Style Companion Piece? The CW's 'Cult' Returns from Cancellation June 28
- 'Fast & Furious 6': The Reviews Are In! 'Return Of The Jedi' Turns 30: Secrets Of Ewok Language Revealed! 'Fast & Furious 6' Expected To Lap 'Hangover III' At Box Office
- Weekly Ketchup: Fox and Marvel Both Courting Quicksilver for Comic Blockbusters Critics Consensus: Fast & Furious 6 is Certified Fresh Red Carpet Photos with Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Gina Carano and More
DJ Jazzy Jeff and Carlton stop by the 'Graham Norton' show: FabulousFriday, May 24, 2013
A history lesson and a 'Lucky' startFriday, May 24, 2013
Human time-lapseThursday, May 23, 2013
Ball's in your court, Bruce DickinsonThursday, May 23, 2013