Another year, another album from the most prolific and ubiquitous pop star on the planet. Rihanna is back with ‘Talk That Talk’, releasing it on the back of worldwide smash ‘We Found Love’, which is as good an indicator as any of what to expect here. It’s not wholly representative of the style of the album, as it lacks the dancehall flavour that Rihanna likes to incorporate into her work, but what it is, is a huge number one single, and the record is packed with tracks that have the same potential.
Confirmed single ‘You Da One’ kicks things off, co-written and produced by Ester Dean, who’s writing credits read like a who’s who of American R&B, and who features on over half the record as a writer or producer. The record is a mid- tempo electro track, dancehall style. It’s mix of thumping bass and laid-back groove is engaging and it is sure to be another massive hit.
The other Calvin Harris’ produced track, ‘Where Have You Been’, is the dirtier, less radio friendly version of ‘We Found Love’ and again, has future single written all over it.
Jay-Z drops in on the ‘Rude Boy’-esque title track to let us know he’s still the man ‘everything I do is big’; while it also features Rihanna’s trademark sexually provocative vocals ‘talk that talk to me all night’. It has nothing though, on ‘Cockiness (Love It)’, which is by far, the most explicit she has ever been on record, more so than ‘S&M’. ‘Suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion’ she teases with predictable intonations. While the main hook comprises of ‘I love it when you eat it’. It also happens to be the most interesting track on the album, produced by Bangladesh and featuring stuttering male vocal samples, it is a real switch up from the more formulaic dance tracks preceding it.
‘We All Want Love’ provides a welcome breather with the appearance of an acoustic guitar, though after such high-octane material before it, it feels a little flat. StarGate produced, ‘Drunk On Love’ and ‘Roc Me Out’ are Rihanna in autopilot, R&B dance tracks that lack the spark of the albums opening tracks, while ‘Watch N Learn’ is another dancehall tinged, provocative track. It takes the album closer ’Farewell’ to really reach the heights reached in the first half of the record though. Rihanna doing vulnerable is rare, and the big synths and huge chorus courtesy of Alex Da Kid echo his other Rihanna feature ‘Love The Way You Lie’. It seems routine to say but it is another potential hit.
Out of the 11 tracks on the standard edition of the album, minus one interlude, 7 of the tracks could be released and be major successes. This is not just because of Rihanna’s popularity, but her ability to capture moments in music and transfer them onto record. As Madonna did in the 80’s and early 90’s, she works with the hottest producers in music and the results are always the same, hit after hit. Same time next year please.