Rhianna – Anti (2016)

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Though Rihanna’s eighth studio album, Anti, probably isn’t the album anybody expected it to be, it’s clear from the on-set that Anti is the album that Rihanna needed to release. Unlike Rihanna’s previous albums — think Loud, Talk That Talk, and UnapologeticAnti isn’t packed with tracks that are set to be singles. In fact, the three singles that were released in the lead up to the album’s unveiling, ‘Fourfiveseconds’, ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ and ‘American Oxygen’, aren’t even part of the album’s official track list.

If you were hoping for yet another album full of Wednesday-night-worthy bangers from Kween RiRi, Anti might not be the album for you — it’s understated in a way that we haven’t seen from Rihanna before. Occasionally minimalist and frequently trippy, the album is home to what might be Rihanna’s best song, ‘Kiss It Better’, which is reminiscent of an early ’00s slow jam, and completely the opposite of track six, ‘Woo’ featuring Travis Scott, which is nearly four minutes of painfully fragmented noise.

Another stand-out track is a very left-field cover of Tame Impala’s song ‘New Person Same Old Mistakes’, titled ‘Same Ol’ Mistakes’ on Anti. Though her cover doesn’t offer any new insight to the song, and is relatively free of any emotion, it’s a totally enjoyable track — as long as you’re not a fan of the Australian band’s original.

While Anti is packed with A-list collaborations — including track four, ‘Work’ featuring Drake, which is a mumbled mess —  and though it is blissfully introspective, the album is in no way innovative and lacks a cohesive sound. Perhaps, had the singles and Rihanna featured the appearance of caring at all, Anti would receive more than two stars and a disapproving emoji face.

Review by Scarlette Baum