When Rihanna started out way back in 2005 the fresh faced Bajan teenager could have easily suffered the same fate of 99% of young female singers. After the one hit and ok tour they hit the ripe old age of 24 and are resigned to a life working in the local Tesco’s. Scanning through a packet of custard creams whilst reminding the kids “You know I used to be somebody once”. It wasn’t just luck that saved our Ri-Ri from that terrible fate and her newest release Loud proves why she’s a survivor.
Loud, Rihanna’s fifth studio album, is a fiercely intense album that could make the most pop-phobic individual break free of their sour indie rock grey cloud and throw shapes around their Morrissey plastered room. There are a few of the staple RnB love songs on here, ‘skin’ and ‘complicated’ are worth the 3 or 4 plays it takes for them to click, but ultimately this is a dance album. ‘Cheers (Drink to That)’ and the electro infused hit single ‘Only Girl (In The World)’ are both leave your bag with your man, grab your girlfriends and lose your mind on the dancefloor tracks.
Rihanna has decided to continue her leather-clad sex vixen shtick which can be seen on the imaginatively named opening track ‘S&M’. Over the best club beats of the year our girl steps up like a mini, if a little tamer, version of shock rock diva Peaches and declares “sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me.” The song is certainly a winner but something tells us that Rihanna didn’t have the final say on whether she wanted to spend another couple of years bound up in PVC pretending that’s what she likes.
Loud is packed with big named collaborations including rapper of the moment Nicki Minaj on ‘Raining Men’, her 112th collaboration of the year, allowing both women to show what they do best. While Minaj flows and spits Rihanna sings about sitting outside with a bucket to catch all those men falling her way. There are certainly a lot of Barbadian influences on Loud and tracks like the doomed love song ‘Man Down’ only benefit from them, who doesn’t love that Caribbean purr.
Despite the slightly tired sex doll antics that feature on the album Loud displays Rihanna at her best. Vocally she could diva off with the best of them, Whitney watch out. Loud is engaging, fun and easily her best release to date. At only 22 Rihanna has enough standout tracks to make sure she never fades into obscurity. Let’s just hope for the next album Rihanna puts away the whip and realises she’s interesting enough without it.
*Recommended* ‘S&M’ and ‘Raining Men’