Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Album review - Talk That Talk by Rihanna

"There's nobody really in my league. There's competition everywhere. The whole music industry is competition. There are people who like other artists, those who like me and others who like both. Beyonce is a great artist, and I feel honored to be mentioned in the same sentence, but we're different performers with different styles." - Rihanna


TALK THAT TALK is the sixth album by Barbadian born Rihanna [Robyn Fenty]. The album was recorded between February - November 2011 and was released in November 2011, through Def Jam Recordings.

Rihanna and Evan Rogers are the executive producers for TALK THAT TALK. Producers for the individual tracks include Alex da Kid, Mr. Bangladesh, Calvin Harris, Chase & Status, Dr. Luke, Ester Dean, Hit-Boy, No I.D., Priscilla Renea, Rob Swire, Stargate and The-Dream. The impressive list of song writers for TALK THAT TALK includes Jay-Z, P Diddy, Calvin Harris, Ester Dean, Lukasz Gottwald, John Hill, Baria Qureshi, Romy Croft, Oliver Sim, Jamie Smith, Priscilla Renea and Chauncey Hollis.

Rihanna co-wrote six of the songs on TALK THAT TALK [four regular album tracks and two of the bonus tracks]: You Da One, Cockiness, Birthday Cake, Watch n Learn, Red Lipstick and Do Ya Thing. Sounds good at first glance, doesn't it? The thing is, ALL of those songs are about sex. I find the heavy repetition boring, not shocking, daring or sexy. It's like that work colleague who always drones on about her weekend hook-ups; I want to tell her to p*ss off or talk about something different, because she's just boring me to tears, not impressing me or leaving me envious. I just want to know if Rihanna has anything else to say now.

Actually most of the album as a whole, not just Rihanna's contributions, is one declaration about the joy of sex, with a few tracks dedicated to needing a man, because being single is apparently the worst thing ever. During the publicity run for her last album [Loud] Rihanna was telling us about how she had to dye her hair red because her 'team' wouldn't let her dye it pink and how she has only just been allowed to wear red lipstick over the last few years, so is TALK THAT TALK her way of rebelling? I'm not trying to look down my nose at her or sound holier then thou, but the tracks are raunchy and littered with various obscenities and it seems like it's just there for the 'shock' value.

I was going to write a detailed track by track breakdown, about I quickly realised that I was just repeating myself, so lets just get straight to the point;

She's found Mr Right (who knows how to love her hard)

She must have lost Mr Right, because she's looking for a new one (to love her all night long)

She's found love with someone, but their personal demons are proving to be too much.
This song is rumoured to be a 'love letter' to Chris Brown, but Rihanna didn't write it, so I don't know why people jumped to that conclusion.

Jay Z reminds us that he's loaded, while Rihanna tells us that she loves dirty talk.

She loves oral sex.
The downloadable single features rapper A$AP Rocky.

She really loves oral sex [the version on the album is a 80 second snippet]
I was really excited about the full length, download only, version of this song. But as it features Chris Brown, who promises that he's "gonna give to her in the worst way", I find it disturbing and lost all interest in the song.

Rihanna needs to find somebody to love.

She craves love and is a hopeless romantic.

A track about sex, that is thinly disguised as being about dancing.

Again it's about sex. On floors, beds and couches, it's all good.

Her friend/boyfriend is moving away, so she's saying goodbye and wishing them well.

My main issue it that there's just not a lot of variety in the style of the lyrics shown here - the tone and content of the songs are all one of three themes from beginning to end. The only track that is different from that tired formula is Farewell. They really needed to mix the lyrical content and style up more since the pace of the music is the more or less the same thoughout the album. meaning that many of the tracks become lost and forgotten in the jumble of loud noise the album becomes.

Rihanna's management say that TALK THAT TALK "combines a variety of musical genres such as hip hop, R&B, Caribbean, trance, electro house, electro, dancehall and dubstep", but in all honesty every sounds like that same old dance/pop that loads of singers do. The only track which shows any real difference in musical style is [once again] Farewell and, as a result, Farewell sounds like it belongs on a different album.

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The first few times I listened to TALK THAT TALK I really enjoyed it, as I was happy to simply hum along to the lively, retro styled synths, but the disappointment started when I really listened to the lyrics and from that point on I found it good, but not anything amazing. Don't get me wrong; When TALK THAT TALK is at it's best we get what I think is of the strongest material Rihanna's released.

But, despite the three stronger tracks, TALK THAT TALK is still a huge let-down for me as there is a clear contrast between the quality of the material, that once you've noticed doesn't go away again. I'm not saying that it's a bad album, but it's too samey and, ultimately, forgettable. Three strong tracks [Where Have You Been, We Found Love and Drunk On Love] and two so-so ones [Talk That Talk and Roc Me Out] can't balance out the six 'filler' tracks.

Overall: TALK THAT TALK just sounds as though everyone ran out of time halfway through the making of the album, so just padded it out with any old tracks that were laying around, confident that her fan base will buy it and defend it regardless.

I'd give TALK THAT TALK 2.5 stars if I could, but I'll have to round it of to a reluctant three.

The overuse of fillers is, for me, a common theme with all of Rihanna's albums. She is definitely someone who I think of as a singles artist, not an albums artist. I'll probably buy any Greatest Hits collection that she may release, but I think the quality of her Rated R album was a fluke, so I'm not sure if I'll bother with another studio release from her in future. She needs to stop her 'an album every year' record, slow things down and spend longer working on evening out the quality levels on the songs, instead of relaying on filler tracks for the gaps in her releases.

Sometimes I wonder what it is that I am missing with Rihanna; whilst she has had some good singles, her albums are all slap dash, I disliked her live singing when I went to her Loud concert [she mumbled so much that I honestly had no idea what song she was singing. I suspect she was hungover - very professional], she uses uses a lack of clothes and 'shocking' [totally predictable and boring] 'dance' [dry humping the air] moves to promote herself.

I definitely don't see anything in her output to back up the quote at the top of my review, so, in my humble opinion, she needs to stop listening to yes men and tighten things up. Her ego is quite off-putting.

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Track list
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1. You Da One
2. Where Have You Been
3. We Found Love
4. Talk That Talk
5. Cockiness (Love It)
6. Birthday Cake [snippet]
7. We All Want Love
8. Drunk On Love
9. Roc Me Out
10. Watch N' Learn
11. Farewell

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Deluxe edition bonus tracks
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12. Red Lipstick
At first I thought Rihanna was having a dig at the rag mags and tabloids, but the opening line is actually "red lipstick all ON the paper" [on a cigarette filter]. And later lines have her grabbing t*ts and d**ks. Another sex song - what a surprise.

13. Do Ya Thang
She loves her friend with benefits is my best guess. Overall this very similar to You Da One, so I guess that's why it's a bonus track.

14. Fool In Love
Rihanna's willing to look stupid by standing by the partner everyone thinks is no good for her. She should have had Chris Brown featuring on this, instead of ruining Birthday Cake.

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Itunes bonus track
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12 or 15. We Found Love [Extended mix]
Just what it says on the tin. The music isn't remixed or anything, so it is a pointless bonus song.

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