Rihanna, TALK THAT TALK (deluxe edition)

Rihanna is back -- and better than ever. Literally: Talk That Talk (deluxe edition), her new album, is far more consistent in terms of quality than her previous releases. The bonus tracks on the deluxe edition are also pretty good.

On Talk That Talk Rihanna goes for more of a rap/street sound than previously (having Jay Z singing like the ultimate alpha street playa on the title track helps), but there are plenty of pop songs here as well, whether singing about love overcoming adversity ("We Found Love") or the compulsion for romance ("Drunk on Love"). And whether going with street or pop, every song on Talk That Talk is about love and romance -- and sex.

Rihanna's never shied away from her sexuality -- I can't count how many times I heard her song "S&M" off her previous album -- but on this album she really turns on the heat. Whether it's the barely-concealed euphemisms of "Cockiness," the less subtle "Birthday Cake" or the dance-or sex "Roc Me Out" she certainly earns the parental warning on the album cover.

Overall, though, Talk That Talk is a pretty solid album. Rihanna's voice sounds great, the songs are almost all catchy, and the mostly upbeat tempo doesn't get bogged down with maudilin ballads or reggae tunes. ("Farewell," the last song on the regular album, might have slowed things down if it didn't combine a moving message with Rihanna's soaring voice.) And while the deluxe version has some unnecessary fluff (postcards of the singer, a sample of her perfume), it also has three bonus songs that are as good as the music on the regular album. Talk That Talk (deluxe album) has Rihanna strutting her stuff very well.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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