Electronic sex on a dirty dance floor is the best way to describe Rihanna’s newest album, “Talk That Talk.”
Even though this is Rihanna’s third album in as many years, it’s surprisingly competent, with a solid mix of leg-spreading beats and that signature Rihanna monotone singing. Despite the fact that dreaded music-recycler, Dr. Luke, produced the first two tracks, “You Da One” and “Where Have You Been,” the songs have an air of freshness to them that was absent on Rihanna’s last album, “Loud.”
She seems to have taken the electronic dance route, which has been the fad in the last two years, to another level. “We Found Love” is mainly a frenzied beat with minimal vocal accompaniment, similar to traditional electronica music. But after that, the album swings in a different direction. The title song is nothing special, with a feature from Jay-Z that’s not very exciting.
Rihanna sometimes gets lost in her own production and that may be because her voice hardly ever reveals any emotion whatsoever. However, she does excel with sex appeal. “Cockiness (I Love It)” and “Birthday Cake” basically yells at everyone listening, “Come and get it, boys (or girls).” There’s something amusing about her blatant abuse of her own sexuality — she’s not taking it too seriously.
An attitude clashes with songs such as “We All Want Love” and “Farewell.” There are two Rihannas going back and forth on this album. The maturing Rihanna wants to be taken more seriously by her peers and showcase her voice and her creativity. The sexual, bubbly Rihanna just wants to dance and sleep around. The latter seems to have won.
This record is pretty good when you look at the fact that this is her third in as many years. It doesn’t feel rushed, but it doesn’t feel completed either. Every artist struggles to find themselves and it’s up to Rihanna to figure if she wants to continue being just a number one single-snatching pop star or a true creative force in pop music.