‘Talk That Talk’ flirts with an array of sounds, resulting in some highs and a few lows

Rihanna - Talk That Talk (Album Cover)Sometimes I feel like no time at all has elapsed between Rihanna’s last album release and the new one I’m currently playing from my iTunes. If nothing else, she definitely works hard.

Talk That Talk is Rihanna’s sixth studio album and if I had to review it in one sentence, I would describe it as a fragmented attempt to return to a former self. There were points at which I thought this album sounds really good and then in a split second, I was disappointed. Listening to the album thoroughly for a second time, I settled on the former.

Lead single We Found Love, which features Calvin Harris, is definitely a song that grows on you. At a point I liked the perfectly fitting video much more than the song itself. Its dance, pop nature is mixed with a naive innocence Rihanna purveys in her vocals.

It doesn’t necessarily set the tone for the album though – we’ve seen Rihanna go from good girl to bad, to pure x-rated and it happens before us again, all in one album.

Talk That Talk flirts with an array of sounds and whether you like her voice or not Rihanna compliments each and every one. Almost every track depicts Rihanna’s sex appeal but she varies the levels. Where Have You Been is one of the best tracks on the album and no doubt a future single release. Catchy and pop-infused with an electro hook, Rihanna’s lyrics on this track are coy and sexy “someone who can please me, love me all night long.”

Birthday Cake re-introduces the overtly sexual lyrics we became familiar with on Loud track – S&M. “I’ma make you my bitch,” she informs her listener on Birthday Cake as a relentless bass beat kicks in that makes you want to pop your booty is sync. She makes no secret of her sexual confidence. The double entendre on track Cockiness (Love It), produced by Mr. Bangladesh, is anything but subtle as the track opens “suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion.”

Caught off guard by the contrast of tempo, it was the ballads on the album that had me questioning whether I liked it or not. Track Farewell has grown on me like Rated R’s Fire Bomb, it even slightly reminds me of it. Farewell portrays the pain she feels about someone leaving but her ultimate choice to “be a big girl now” so she’s not the reason he doesn’t leave. On the subject of similarities, Roc Me Out also shadows Rude Boy. 

Talk That Talk title track sounds like a return to her roots in a few ways. A typical R&B beat, a (perhaps half-hearted) feature by the person who founded her success – Jay-Z and the Bajan princess brings out her native accent for the track’s bridge. A sure fire commercial success which would do well as a single release.

Rihanna - Talk That Talk Deluxe Edition (Album Cover)There are three additional tracks on the Talk That Talk deluxe editionRed Lipstick samples Chase and Status’ Saxon. This instrumental surfaced as a reference track by Nicki Minaj for Rihanna. I must say, I prefer Nicki’s rendition but regardless this dubstep production by Chase and Status is something to be appreciated. And while Rihanna doesn’t pay much mind to the lyrics set out by Nicki Minaj, she definitely exudes the same sassy conceitedness.

Do Ya Thang might have you confused as Rihanna sings “that’s what I love about you babe” in reference to her man eyeing up other girls. It has a hint of 80s pop with an R&B edge and as conflicting as the lyrics may be, it’s addictive. Rihanna sings her heart out for the last time in ballad Fool In Love. 

All in all Talk That Talk displays Rihanna’s ubiquitous nature and as aforementioned is a little fragmented and could have been a lot more consistent. There’s definitely a few tracks on the album that will reach a substantially higher play count on your iTunes than the rest.

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