Leah Greenblatt
November 10, 2010 AT 05:00 AM EST

Loud

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Timo Maas
Producers
Kinetic

We gave it an A-

Last year was possibly the nadir of Rihanna?s young life, and it showed all over her aptly titled Rated R — a bleak, bullet-cased chronicle of a domestic-violence victim?turned?sonic vigilante.

Loud, the 22-year-old Barbados native?s fifth disc, comes almost a year to the day after R, and only scant traces of that wounded warrior remain. In her place is a rebooted pop vixen, a Caribbean-accented kitten with a whip. What begins with late-night-Cinemax naughtiness (see: explicitly carnal opener ”S&M” and playful Drake collab ”What?s My Name?”) soon yields to the walk-away ballad ”Fading,” a gorgeously synthesized moment of sweet defiance. The Jameson-swilling, TGIF-toasting ”Cheers (Drink to That)” folds a left-field Avril Lavigne sample into a crunked party anthem, while the rum-pa-pum ragga ”Man Down” burrows neck-deep in island rhythms. Lead single ”Only Girl (In the World)” finds her playing the spiraling dance-floor siren, a role she carries through the airy ”Complicated.” Even while telling a recalcitrant man how hard he is to love, she sounds almost buoyant, her newly expanded vocals eager to scale the song?s high-altitude house beat.

At times the album?s lurid sexuality can feel forced: kink as oversold diva commodity. What Loud showcases 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. A?

See all of this week’s reviews

You May Like

Comments

EDIT POST