By Jonathan Fuchs, Copy Editor
[Roc Nation; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Consideration,” “Desperado,” “Needed Me”
As simple as it can sound, pop music is a hard genre to discuss. Many popular artists in the genre tend to play it safe and release the same generic content with every album. There never seems to be an artist daring enough to ignore trends and release music focusing on emotion instead of making money. However, ANTI, the long awaited eighth album from pop icon Rihanna, is an album that avoids stereotypes through its R&B-influenced direction that will surprise fans and impress anyone not familiar with her past releases.
Some may be disappointed that the singles leading up to ANTI’s release (“American Oxygen,” “FourFiveSeconds,” “Bitch Better Have My Money”) are nowhere to be seen in the tracklist. This may be for the best, as there is really nowhere these songs could fit compared to the rest of the album, which doesn’t go in a similar direction. While these singles are different from Rihanna’s past work, they still have a strong pop atmosphere. The most pop-friendly track on the entire album is the single “Work,” which features a dancehall-like rhythm and a fun featured verse from Drake. As fun as the track is, it gets a little tiring to listen to over time which makes the rest of the album even more refreshing.
The highlights of ANTI are the tracks that are completely incomparable to the rest of Rihanna’s discography from a stylistic standpoint. Tracks like “Consideration,” “Kiss It Better” and “Love on the Brain” stick with the listener since they explore a different side of the pop star. These tracks may not be as catchy or danceable as Rihanna’s past singles, but they prove to the world that she is more than just your average pop star and she can perform any song that comes her way. The acoustic songs on ANTI (“Never Ending,” “Close To You”) encourage the listener to focus more on Rihanna’s voice instead of instrumentals, making the songs seem more personal.
The most talked about song on ANTI is Rihanna’s cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” which puts her vocals in the spotlight instead Kevin Parker, who sang on the original. Her vocals make the song stronger, especially since Parker’s vocals are a little weak and nasally on the original track. The vocals on this cover make the song stronger as a whole, and can arguably be considered better than Tame Impala’s version.
ANTI is Rihanna at her strongest. It leaves all of the catchy singles behind, showing a raw perspective of the singer that couldn’t be done with heavy production or banging beats. It’s a refreshing album for modern pop, and a record many will appreciate for trying something new.