You could argue that Rihanna, along with Beyonce, is the biggest female name in music at this moment in time due to her incredible diversity and her ability to transform style from one album to another. Back with her eighth studio album ‘ANTI’, Rihanna has arrived with a bang after her lead single from the album, ‘Work’ which featured Toronto’s own superpower Drake, went straight to number one all across the world and became a smash hit. Has her album followed suit and continued Rihanna’s brilliant track record? Let’s see.

Consideration (feat. SZA): 5.5/10
Stuttering beat with a vocal nothing short of bizarre from Rihanna as she changes style about 4 or 5 times in whole song while the beat remains constant and dreary. Lyrically preaches about wanting to be independent and a strong woman who doesn’t need to rely on a man. The feature of SZA works fairly well vocally with Rihanna but is far from memorable. As an introduction to an album it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard but it’s far from the best. Already a long way behind previous albums.

James Joint: 6.5/10
Softer voice in this song that really shows the quality she has. Sounds like the sort of modernised jazz twist expected from the end of a Tyler, The Creator song. I like the fact that it’s only 1 minute 10 seconds long because it works well as a transition track and an example of the varied style Rihanna can go into. Just okay, nothing more and nothing less.

Kiss It Better: 4.5/10
Sexually driven track about a relationship that keeps ending but they can’t stay away from each other. Just such a drag, one motive to this song and it is boring. The poor sampled guitar sound in the chorus is horrendously placed and is only masked partially by Rihanna’s vocal. We get it Rihanna, you have sex, move on. At least with other songs she has produced with this motive there has been a catchy and strong beat to it (Rude Boy, S&M) but this just descends into nothingness.

Work (feat. Drake): 9/10
This song went to number one for a reason. Infectious track with an amazing beat. Very difficult to understand what she sings, I don’t think even she knows at times but somehow it works. A proper Rihanna track that has become an overnight success. The attraction of having Drake on this song will always raise the standards and he duly delivers with a brilliant verse to demonstrate his varied rap to singing style. The pair’s voices compliment magnificently and it sparks yet more rumours about the relationship between them. Anyway, it’s a great song and will be on many people’s playlists, to say it’s comfortably the best song on the album would be an understatement.

Desperado: 5/10
Tries her hand at this Caribbean style vocal to represent her background but it just doesn’t work, an almost painful listen. Sometimes a simple beat similar to this can work on something like a hip hop track if the vocal is a fast paced, high quality flow but there just isn’t any example of this being the case.

Woo: 5.5/10
Beat that’s a bit all over the place and matches the autotuned vocal that is shown in the chorus. You can hear Future’s voice faintly in the background and his influence on the track hasn’t gone unnoticed with the heavy bass on a slower beat, almost a trademarked quality of Future’s music. The autotune and contortion of Rihanna’s voice makes the song as a whole sound like a terrible cover of an ‘808s and Heartbreaks’ song from Kanye’s album. Flop and the most exciting part of the song is Future saying ‘yeah’ a few times.

Needed Me: 6.5/10
Edgy side of Rihanna as she calls herself a “savage” and basically brags about how important she was in this relationship. The style is very reminiscent of The Weeknd and it is a good song by the standards of this album; but that’s hardly saying much. You do grow tired of it by the end as it sounds crazy with layers of Rihanna’s vocals going over the top of each other and it just sounds like noise.

Yeah, I Said It: 5.5/10
Soft, sensual, modern R&B track with a blunt but hardcore message of sex. Very descriptive in her lyrics and even sounds involved in what she sings about while performing it at times. Short and snappy song that’s to the point but a bit boring to be honest. As nice as it is to hear about Rihanna’s sex life, we kind of get the picture now there’s no need to keep bringing it up.

Same Ol’ Mistakes: 4/10
It would be very easy to forget this is even a song, literally nothing happens in this song until about 4 minutes in when she goes off with the fairies a bit in a trippy bridge. Rihanna’s vocal is in the background and sounds like it’s miles away. It’s clear she has tried to incorporate this distance between listener and her voice with the distance that it felt like she had in a previous relationship but that’s not really helped create a good song. It’s actually made the song much worse than it could have been. 6 minutes of this? Really? I would much rather have 6 minutes of ‘Work’ and none of this.

Never Ending: 7.5/10
Much more natural and real sound to Rihanna in this song and I really like that. As this change comes so does a much better song as a result. Lyrically it becomes relatable as she discusses and pours out her heart over a lost love that she drifted away from. The effects this has on her is apparent with lyrics such as “it’s pulling me apart this time” and it is the sort of quality expected from a Rihanna song, not the drivel we hear before this. This is a good song I’m enjoying listening to it.

Love On The Brain: 6.5/10
Soulful style as she hits the high notes on a smooth beat. Reminds me of this reintroduced genre of soul, brought back into the normality by singers such as Paloma Faith and Emeli Sande, even Paolo Nutini too. This American twist on the song does work however and her vocal range is fantastic. Far from earth shattering but still strong nonetheless.

Higher: 6/10
Strained but natural vocal and shows the real passion needed in this song. A bit short but any longer might have taken the spark out of it. I feel like it needed to be short and concise to get the message across. It’s an okay song with a lot of pain and heartache involved but it’s not really that great and is slightly boring.

Close To You: 5.5/10
All of these slower songs sound identical which is a shame because in the past Rihanna has been able to produce fresh slower music that was memorable and unique. She is lucky that she has a great voice to go alongside the piano and that can partially distract you from the sheer boredom this song creates. It’s better than the edgy sound on this album but still not the standard an artist of Rihanna’s stature should be hitting.

Overall: 5/10
An experiment that’s gone horribly wrong. Reminds me of the sort of risk Kid Cudi took with ‘Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven’ as he tried to branch away and make something fresh and original. Like Cudi, Rihanna has flopped on this album and dented her normally fantastic discography with this album. It was a real test of my patience and endurance to sit through this album, I almost have up on it about 3 times. The slower songs towards the end are a tiny saving grace but even they aren’t great. I was quite excited about this album because I enjoyed her previous work, but this? You’re better than this, Rihanna.


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