After a couple of years, the lovely Rihanna returns with a new album (not just a re-release--THANK GOODNESS!!!). After going through the domestic violence case this past year, she claims in interviews that she has grown a lot, and has transferred it into her work. And how did that turn out? Read on for the Track by Track Review.
1. Mad House - Nice Intro..dark tone and setting for the rest of the album (I'm not going to rate this track, though)
2. Wait Your Turn - Very reggae-feeling with Rihanna's voice. Not the normal RiRi that we all grew to know and love on GGGB. The minute I heard the F bomb I was really shocked (I don't really like vulgarity in music that much). The chorus is the best part for sure. 3.5/5
3. Hard (featuring Jeezy) - The beginning is a little awkward. But after that, it only gets better. The chorus, once again, is probably the most memorable part, along with the verses by Jeezy. Stellar production makes this a solid track that is definitely one of the better of the "new-Rihanna" tracks. At first listen, you may not like it (like I didn't enjoy it when I first heard it), but give it a second listen and you might like it. 4/5
4. Stupid In Love - Whew. Now that the gangsta-tracks are over, we hear a ballad by Rihanna. This track, aided greatly by a piano background, is a stand out track. I believe that this track exemplifies the emotions of Rihanna greatly. 4/5
5. Rockstar 101 (featuring Slash!!) - Back to rocker Rihanna. Something just seems to be missing from this track to make it epic. Oh well. Another example of the edgier Rihanna that everyone is talking about...and I'm not a huge fan. But another good track (where you should probably give it a second chance after you hear it for the first time). 3/5
6. Russian Roulette - Lead Single. Two words--simply spectacular. The dark, scary background piano gives this ballad an edge that truly, in my personal opinion, sums up her experiences from the past year. Oh, and just a SIDENOTE..the vocals are AMAZING. 5/5
7. Fire Bomb - A mid tempo song, the title of the song actually deceived me. I thought that it was going to be yet again another song about being a rocker, bad*ss, blah blah blah. But it's not this way, and this song is all about the lower registers of Rihanna's voice that are rarely heard in her music. "The lovers need to clear the road"...I really liked this song. The sirens and crackling fire at the end of the song topped the cake. 4/5
8. Rude Boy - With significant sexual innuendo throughout the song, the production give it almost a Jamaican vibe, most likely inspired from Rihanna's small island roots. A little repetitive, but still a nice track. 3.5/5
9. Photographs (featuring will.i.am) - A slower paced/mid tempo track, this is one of the better songs of the album. The auto-tuned track contributed by will.i.am truly makes it much more memorable. 4.5/5
10. G4L (Gangsta for Life) - Another "gangsta" track, this one gets very very repetitive. One of the weaker tracks on the album. But still enjoyable! 3/5
11. Te Amo - Just to preface/explain this song first. This song was written by a man from a man's point of view, and Rihanna decided to sing it. So this should clear any confusion...hopefully. The story of the song follows one of Rihanna's friends who has deep feelings for her (loves Rihanna), and Rihanna likes her as a friend, but as nothing more. On to the track. This song was leaked a while back in June, and its Latin influences are apparent. This is one of the best songs on the album. (and one of my personal favorites!!) 5/5
12. Cold Case Love - Starts out with old style, organ-like pipes. This is a rather lengthy song for Rihanna, but then again the whole album is about "breaking the rules" in a way. Very minimal backing track at the beginning of the song gives it a cool feel. At 1:30 or so, the backing leads way to quite gorgeous instrumentals and snaps. At around 3:45 then, production really takes over. A REALLY nice track!!! One of my personal favorites. 4.5/5
13 - Appropriately titles with giant vocals. This really just serves some more emotions from Rihanna. A solid track, but overall just an OK way to end an awesome album. 3.5/5
Although not as consistent as GGGB, this album is probably stronger overall. It is really about breaking the status quo and using music as a platform for emotional expression (which i thought was the original purpose of music in the first place!!) A great effort from Rihanna. A MUST buy.