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Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODFUN -

RI­HANNA: TALK THAT TALK

IF LADY Gaga is an android from the fu­ture and Bey­once is a Sher­man tank of bot­tom­less am­bi­tion and great teeth, and Britney Spears is a hu­man va­cancy sign, what is Ri­hanna? She could be any­one. She’s a shape-shifter to be sure, a blur of hit sin­gles and brightly coloured weaves. But what else? There isn’t an­other en­ter­tainer in the pub­lic eye who seems so re­mote.

“Take a peek at the girl I hide,” she sings on Roc Me Out, one of the lesser tracks on her for­mi­da­ble new al­bum, Talk That Talk, “I’ll let you in on a dirty se­cret / I just wanna be loved.” For Ri­hanna, who rarely breaks the fourth wall, it’s a strate­gic con­ces­sion to pub­lic cu­rios­ity, although the song might have had more mean­ing if the singer her­self had been one of its mul­ti­ple co-writ­ers.

Rated R, the 2009 disc made af­ter her as­sault by, and break-up, with Chris Brown, was a pro­tracted re­venge tale. Its con­spicu- ously party- hearty fol­low- up, Loud, was an ad­mis­sion that Rated R had taken its joy­less theme too far.

The im­pec­ca­bly as­sem­bled, 100 per­cent fly­weight Talk That Talk po­si­tions Ri­hanna as an Every­girl in search of ro­mance, sex and a good party.

Talk is thick with Ri­hanna’s usual, overly laboured dou­ble- and triple-en­ten­dres, her weird sort of af­fect­less raunch. When, on the jit­tery, over­long- at- 78- sec­onds Birth­day Cake she dis­penses with the pleas­antries with a dev­as­tat­ingly di­rect line (we can’t re­peat it in a fam­ily news­pa­per, but it’s eas­ily the bluntest thing we’ve ever heard from a main­stream pop singer), she says it with all the erotic charge of some­one learn­ing how to pro­gram her DVR.

The rest of the time Ri­hanna sounds bet­ter, more present, than she ever has. She pries a hook out of the aim­less Watch n’ Learn us­ing some kind of su­per­diva Jaws of Life. – Al­li­son Ste­wart, Washington Post

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