Rihanna’s ‘Talk’ goes in one ear, out the other

Since 2005, Barbados-born pop star Robyn Rihanna Fenty has been climbing the charts with five albums under her belt and a number of successful singles. With the addition of “Talk That Talk,” released Nov. 21, the singer seemingly aims to mesh dance beats with odes to all different kinds of love.

Rihanna released her sixth album, "Talk That Talk," on Nov. 21. Photo via Def Jam.

Rihanna has strayed away tremendously from her reggae/Caribbean-influenced roots with her last three albums and has successfully crossed over to mainstream pop music. It’s made her quite a big name.

But where her first big mainstream release, “Good Girl Gone Bad,” introduced listeners to a different sound with 15 solid, radio-ready tracks, “Talk That Talk” falls short of feeling like a complete album.

“Loud,” which was released last year, has the same number of tracks as “Talk That Talk” but had six good singles on it. While listening to “Talk That Talk,” it’s easy to skip from track to track and not think twice about it.

The singles already released from “Talk That Talk” are good, maybe even great.  “We Found Love,” her collaboration with Scottish producer Calvin Harris, is a perfect hit for today’s radio. The lyrics are simple and relatable, and even though they are repetitious, you find yourself singing along. Throw in a talented producer like Harris and the house music and dubstep sound that has become so popular on the Top 40 charts, and it’s no wonder “We Found Love” is always playing in your car.

“Where Have You Been” also seems to sample from the dubstep craze and throw Rihanna’s vocals on top of it.

Another radio hit and album opener, “You Da One” is reminiscent of Rihanna’s first album “Music Of The Sun” with its more relaxed reggae feel and rhythm. These singles seem to have Rihanna’s signature charm and swagger that fans gravitate to and love.

The album’s title track, featuring Jay-Z, could possibly be the next single off the album with yet another catchy, repetitive hook and chorus built on a strong rhythmic beat. Beyond that, “Talk That Talk” becomes a little boring. The rest of the tracks aren’t horrible efforts, but there’s something missing.

While all the tracks on the album sound clear and confident, some just fail to stand out. Not because they’re bad songs, but they don’t leave the lasting impression Rihanna’s music so often does. They sound like fillers for the few singles on the record.

Similar to 2009’s “Rated R,” you’ll probably remember the songs that were played on the radio but won’t recall anything else from the album come next year.

Not even the provocative songs feel right. It could be the fact that some of the sex-orientated tracks on the album teeter-totter on cheesy. “Cockiness (Love It),” starts off with the lyrics, “Suck my cockiness/ Lick my persuasion/ Eat my poison/ And swallow your pride down, down.” The innuendos aren’t sexy or very clever and are likely to leave the listener feeling a little icky after hearing it.

Rihanna’s other sex-obsessed single “S&M,” which was covered in naughtiness, worked. Maybe its bluntness was key, but it doesn’t equate to a hit single in “Cockiness (Love It).” The song “Birthday Cake” is another track that fails to sound sexy and ends up merely sounding painfully awkward. You wouldn’t want to sing it at anyone’s party.

Rihanna has been known to change up her style between albums, but “Talk That Talk” doesn’t bring anything extremely new or fresh to the table that she, or someone else on the radio, hasn’t done already.

“Loud” was great because it was packed with good pop singles. “Good Girl Gone Bad” was great because it was cohesive and still sounds fresh four years later.

“Talk That Talk” unfortunately doesn’t have those qualities. It’s an OK sixth effort from Rihanna, but if you passed it up and just bought “We Found Love” on iTunes, you’d be just fine.

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