Review Roundup: Rihanna’s LoudBy Laura Aguirre
Whether or not you watched Rihanna‘s music video “What’s My Name?” featuring Drake, this weekend, let me give you the heads up – it’s unreal… in a bad way. The video, like the song, did nothing for me, except leave an echoing pop-ish line in my head – what’s my name… what’s my name… Rihanna’s album Loud also came out this weekend. The CD features 11-tracks, and is Rihanna’s fifth studio album (she’s only 22-years-old). Watch the video of “What’s My Name?” and read reviews for Loud below…
Rihanna is at full-scale belt, and each track seems alchemized to induce the backing harmonies of hundreds of tipsy dancers. On the lasciviously bass-heavy opener “S&M,” the singer’s voice goes stratospheric over an electro pulse; “Man Down” forays into dancehall with poppy pep. “Cheers (Drink to That)” inexplicably samples Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You” (just the “yeah-yeah” yawps) and the thin track, produced by Runners, can’t support Rihanna’s forceful verses. But “California King Bed” is a wrenching ballad about the waking death of a relationship, the stage of limbo before the final crash; it’s so well-delivered, in fact, that it’s hard to hear. [Spin]
What immediately stands out amongst Loud‘s 11 tracks is its attraction to club-friendly production. There is little experimentation going on here, which would only reflect poorly on the singer if she seemed lazy in her approach to the music. [Culture Bully]
But it’s not all death, destruction and weird fetishes. The majority of “Loud” boasts lite-pop bedroom jams, ballads and fierce club bangers, as a supremely confident Rihanna pours on extra doses of her barely-there Barbadian accent at key moments and pushes the limits of her vocal range. [Boston Herald]
As well as ‘S&M’, with its talk of sex smells and light bondage sessions, ‘Man Down’ finds the singer pursued by sirens after filling a body with bullets during an altercation in the street. The track is one of the best Rihanna’s ever recorded, klaxons firing through Barbadian patois as she poses as a reluctant fugitive figure over a ‘Blade Runner’ rocksteady beat… But other moments of high drama tend to be more mundane: ‘Cheers (Drink To That)’ is a love song addressed to alcohol’s healing powers, while lead single ‘Only Girl (In The World)’ and ‘What’s My Name’ are both happy enough just chasing infatuation’s thrill. She sounds better this way – natural, confident, sexy; even if the latter track does feature the worst rap ever to roll off Drake’s tongue… Another truly terrible moment comes in the form of ‘California King Bed’, a tortuous ballad with an awful, wailing chorus line and an awful, wailing guitar solo tacked on the end that would probably sound more comfortable in the throat of someone 20 years older. Of the 11 tracks here there are probably five that are gold, though, and that’s a good ratio for Rihanna. [DotMusic]
When the smoke clears and the wreckage of this plane crash are revised, the main weakness of ‘Loud’ is that it is not a cohesive body of work. The album is simply a collection of singles from which Rihanna’s label can choose to service to radio. [That Grape Juice]
At times the album’s lurid sexuality can feel forced: kink as oversold diva commodity. What Loudshowcases best, though, is a star undefeated by her worst circumstances — and finding redemption in exactly the kind of pop nirvana that made her famous in the first place. [EW]
Loud is out now.
What do you think? Does it sound like the album is worth your time or money?