Rihanna – Anti
Speculation concerning Rihanna’s next musical venture has smouldered year on year since her 2012 release Unapologetic. As a chaotic chain of events (including an accidental leak of her new album) ensued, Anti stuttered into the mainstream at the end of January this year.
Anti sees the Barbadian superstar branch out from the manufactured pop factory and embrace new musical and sonic environments. The 13-part musical jungle is full of surprises, from the vintage organs, glittering electric piano and nostalgic melody of James Joint to the dark and atmospheric Desperado. The standout curveball comes from vintage-coloured track Love on the Brain, with a disappointing strikeout in Higher. Love on the Brain exudes a gorgeous, smoky blues ambience with jangling guitars, sumptuous string melodies and soulful vocals that draw parallels with Amy Winehouse or Welsh one-hit-wonder Duffy. On the other hand, similarly retro-sounding Higher is a less satisfying listen, as her raspy vocals do nothing but stick a needle in the listener’s ears.
Textural inventiveness is an element Anti takes to great magnitudes. Amid the sonic labyrinth of the record, Needed Me, a woozy and slow-brewing track that consults the creative mind of DJ Mustard, reveals some absorbing sonic effects. The track penetrates the listener with quivering off-beat synth, booming bass sonorities that sound like they were born in the bottom of a deep ocean and twisted vocal samples in the audible horizon.
As listeners may puzzle over the unorthodox musical world of this album, the concluding chapter Close to You revives a sense of familiarity. Following on from previous R&B ballads such as Take a Bow and Unfaithful, Close to You sees Rihanna’s seamless vocals glisten under an enchanting and minimalist piano ballad backdrop, filled with airy harmonies, a mahogany acoustic bass line and mellow strings in the distance.
On reflection, Anti is an album that exposes new and brave angles of Rihanna. It is certainly an adventure, but it will take more than one listen to fully appreciate her new creative intentions.
Anti is released on 28th January 2016, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Work ft. Drake here: