Music Review: ‘Anti’ by Rihanna

antiRihanna has always exuded confidence, but now without any remote hard-hitting singles, her confidence has begun to truly show as an artist. Rihanna has always struck as an artist whose appeal came from the variety of club banging singles from reggae dancehall to electronica-R&B. But Anti begs to differ. Rihanna has finally released an album with redeemable look backs despite some underwhelming production around the album.

Anti is devoid of trends in the nature of the instrumentals chosen, despite being thematically Rihanna. For the better, Rihanna’s deviation from her usual sound makes the album better. Its biggest misstep is finding an appropriate section for her three singles released last year,  “FourFiveSeconds,” “American Oxygen” and “Bitch Better Have My Money.” In retrospect, the album doesn’t suffer much because of it, but a case can be made for the former two tracks omissions being the bigger disappointment as they both contain an overarching sound that fits.

Though no track feels misplaced, some don’t carry enough gravitas to be played solo and it makes it harder to go back to individual songs. This is the case for “Woo,” where the electronic synths don’t play well to her vocals in distortions and its corresponding layers. The rasp in her voice and harmonies doesn’t compliment the nature of the instrumental properly. By no means is it a bad track, but would it sound well if you decided to have it on a playlist? No. As a whole, it does have redeemable playback value. It’s a disappointment considering how much La Flame appears on it.

Anti has Rihanna showcasing her unique writing ability on songs “Consideration,” and “Kiss It Better,” amongst others. This is not to discredit other amazing songwriters on this album like James Fauntleroy and Dido, amongst others. Some of the songs that carry a load of writers excel on this album as it contributes harmony amongst relevant subject matter.

“Love on the Brain,” the very doo-wop influenced track that speaks on her relationship with Chris Brown, is a different and clever turn for Rihanna. Her voice holds a beautiful complexion to the face of the track’s instrumental.

Anti can’t be lauded with high appraisal because a lot of the production sometimes ends up being underwhelming. Instrumentally, it lacks complexity and sometimes some of the recurring loops sound redundant under Rihanna’s voice. The Drake featured “Waves,” carries a great sound, but as unique as it is, the instrumentation ends up coming in a little weak. Drake still abides to his singsong rap deal cause yah know everyone trying to be wavy now. The reggae-pop like vocalizations from Rihanna compliments Drake’s flow and vice versa, but it’s far from the best on this album.

But at other times the instrumental works slightly better when Rihanna bodies the track. “Kiss It Better,” gives Rihanna the center stage with her vocals and writing. This is exceptional for the caliber she has an artist. Like “Love On The Brain,” and the songs that follow it, Rihanna flexes her vocal chops with prominence.

This is a stellar follow-up to Unapologetic, unless you count the Home Soundtrack, then it still is a stellar follow-up. She exuberates confidence as a singer, which she seemed to hide in her previous singles. It has a complete sound from front to back that’s beyond exceptional for what is expected from the singer out of Barbados.

7.5/10

Kevin Montes is one sarcastically satirical dude. He’s usually at home watching hours of comedy and television, primarily Simpsons. Kevin aspires to be a TV writer, a joke writer, and composer for all things Harmony Korine. You can reach him on twitter @iamkevinmontes to further ask about all things Simpsons.