Get ready to feel old.
It has been over 10 years since Rihanna burst onto the pop music scene as a teenager with her hit single, “Pon de Replay.”
For the rest of the decade, she became a worldwide pop star, making frequent appearances at the top of the charts, both with her own singles as well as providing the hooks for several major hip-hop hits.
However, other than the odd single here and there and the soundtrack for the animated film “Home,” the past few years have seen a relatively small output from the Barbadian singer.
Rihanna’s latest release, “Anti,” shows a departure from the dance-club sound that most would associate with her.
One shouldn’t approach “Anti” expecting another “We Found Love” or “Umbrella,” although the album’s lead single “Work” is slightly reminiscent of “Rude Boy.”
The range of styles and influences found on “Anti” is wide and, at times, unexpected.
Such is the case of her cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” retitled simply, “Same Ol’ Mistakes.”
One of the best tracks on the album, “Same Ol’ Mistakes,” sees Rihanna go psychedelic.
Other high points on the album include, “Desperado,” a moody song with interesting production and a bluesy vocal from Rihanna, and “Never Ending,” an emotional acoustic guitar-driven ballad.
Speaking of guitars, “Kiss it Better” opens with a guitar solo that harkens back to the sound of ‘80s movie soundtracks.
“Love on the Brain” goes back even further, drawing from ‘50s soul and doo-wop.
With all the strengths “Anti” has, the album is not without its weaknesses.
Tracks like “Needed Me” and “Yeah, I Said It” feel like obvious filler, and “Work,” the previously mentioned single, seems like it was added to the album to be exactly that—a radio single.
The guest appearance from Drake does little to help the song, as his lazy delivery weighs the song down.
Altogether, “Anti” reflects both a maturing artist as well as changing trends in pop radio.
Rihanna has become a global star and a pop music veteran at only 27 years old and this album can be seen as another shift in her career from dance-pop diva to an eclectic R&B elder stateswoman of sorts.
Despite the change in style from her previous releases, “Anti” still has material for fans of her other material. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the album.