1. “You Da One” – To kick off her sixth album, Rihanna keeps things simple with a mid-tempo paced track featuring a repetitive but catchy hook. Not the strongest intro to the album but a solid cut. However, it doesn’t do much for anyone or anything. 2/5 Owls.
2. “Where Have You Been” – The young woman from Barbados who first used to sing poppy-urban tracks with a Caribbean twist has changed her sound dramatically and this song is a good example of that change. This is a DJ’s paradise as I can envision the song being cut up and mixed to get the party going in the middle of a club. 3/5 Owls.
3. “We Found Love” (feat. Calvin Harris) – The video caused a lot of controversy with Rihanna’s love interest in it looking way too familiar to her ex, Chris Brown. The video however was excellent and it proves more so that Rihanna has good control behind the decisions that pertain to her career. This song was the album’s first single and has fared pretty well in the charts. 3/5 Owls.
4. “Talk That Talk” (feat. Jay-Z) – “I sell out arenas, I call that getting dome,” says the always confident Jay-Z. The track is probably going to be released as a single in the near future and despite it not being quite as good as “Umbrella,” it should do fairly well. 3/5 Owls.
5. “Cockiness (Love It)” – In case you didn’t get the memo, our dear Rihanna is a freak in the sheets and reminds all her listeners to “suck her cockiness and lick her persuasion.” The strong lyrics continue throughout the track that is just under three minutes. But that’s more than enough time for Rihanna to make her intentions clear. 3/5 Owls.
6. “Birthday Cake” – The freakiness continues as she takes it a whole new level. Forget metaphors, she’s telling you directly that she wants it. 2/5 Owls.
7. “We All Want Love” – The sweet side of Rihanna shines light as she croons about the typical ups and downs of relationships. The tempo finally slows down but it definitely does suck out the energy the album was beginning to carry. 2/5 Owls.
8. “Drunk On Love” – It pretty much touches on the same subject as the last song but the synth-driven track with steady heavy drums provide an ominous vibe that gives the subject a refreshing feel to it. 3/5 Owls.
9. “Roc Me Out” – The attitude we are becoming used to from Rihanna resurfaces here, as this beat is more of a head knocker rather than a dance song. It sounds like it’s more off the “Rated R” album she released a couple of years ago than this actual record, but it’s nonetheless a good track. 3/5 Owls.
10. “Watch ‘n Learn” – This is vintage Rihanna here as that Caribbean flavor I initially talked about makes a comeback. The lyrical content is more modern Rihanna (“Just because I can’t kiss back, doesn’t mean you can’t kiss that”) but the overall sound and vibe brings me back to her “Pon De Replay” days. 4/5 Owls.
11. “Farewell” – Alex da Kid’s production is front and center here with the same drums he always uses and subtle guitar riffs. It’s an all-too-familiar chord progression, but regardless he provides a strong finish to the pop singer’s album. Rihanna’s lyrics are toned down and more personal; it’s just a shame it took until the last track for it to happen. At this point, her last three albums all feel the same. For her seventh studio album, Rihanna must switch directions and find a new sound before she runs the risk of becoming a gimmick and a rather predictable artist. She has way too much talent to succumb and become another product of the music industry. She needs to get personal and start actually saying something in between all the dance records before listeners turn a deaf ear to her. 3/5 Owls.
Overall: 3 out of 5 Owls
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