Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Rihanna: Talk That Talk (Deluxe Edition) [Def Jam, 2011]
Musically, this is pop without shame--her hookiest and most dance-targeted album, decorated with a thoughtful assortment of suitably titillating blats, noodles, dubs, groans, hiccups, boom-booms, cut-ups, speed-ups, xx samples, and spoken-word bits. Lyrically, it celebrates the relationship of sex to love rather than pain, dipping predictably on the heart songs and theme statements that slow down the second half, especially on the standard edition. Associating carnality with love as I do, I prefer it to her earlier albums because I find its many porny moments titillating. Sure Beyoncé is sexier in principle--I like smart girls, not bad girls, especially bad girls with a thing for worse men. But I believe in taking my titillation wherever it raises its spongy head. A-