Rihanna’s ‘Anti’ album is out, after speculation and anticipation, it’s suddenly here, and in rapid succession so are the reviews. Find out what the critics are saying of this latest release, the long-delayed eighth from the pop icon.
The long-awaited album arrived with very little fanfare. Rumors swirled just a few days before its previously unannounced release date and unnamed sources confirmed the album would drop sometime in the week. Well, that moment has arrived and a day ahead of the traditional Friday album release day. In fact, now the speculation is over whether this was the grand marketing plan or a retrospective repair of virtual chaos. It appeared on TIDAL, and then disappeared and then Rihanna herself Tweeted “gift to my navy,” which is to say a free download code.
Well, either way there was no need for any more buildup. The mere fact that Rihanna hadn’t released an album for more than three years was, an aberration, first of all, after years of November releases arriving dependably just ahead of the Christmas holiday shopping season. three went two such holiday seasons with no new album. Rihanna’s millions of fans, her navy, have been waiting a long, long time.
Now in the last days of January the ‘Anti’ album is here and in many ways new meaning is now attached to that title. Its release has very much been an anti-release. ‘Anti’ was preceded by the release of the single ‘Work,’ her new collaboration with Drake which was available on TIDAL and simultaneously served to radio.
Critics may have had very little lead time, but nonetheless they have a lot to say about Rihanna’s new musical direction which some — notably The Telegraph — are dubbing the emergence of “artistic independence.” This is clearly not her past formula of guaranteed international smash hits that will get mixed and remixed and heard in clubs all over the world. On the other hand, The New York Times sees this all as Rihanna being “adrift.” As always, in the ears of the beholder.
Here’s a roundup of what critics are saying in their reviews.
“….Sooner or later, every manufactured artist turns against their creators, from the Monkees (with their self-immolating psychedelic opus Head in 1968) to Miley Cyrus biting the Disney hand that had fed her for years by stripping off and twerking. Anti is Rihanna’s overdue bid for some kind of artistic independence and critical credibility, and despite its lack of obvious commercial appeal it might turn out to be a smart move…..” –The Telegraph
“…. Anti is typically diverse for Rihanna, who has blended dancehall, R&B, EDM and pop on previous releases. Few songs are guaranteed radio standouts—it’s clear that past collaborators like David Guetta and Dr. Luke don’t have a fingerprint on the LP—save for the DJ Mustard-produced “Needed Me,” whose syrupy low-end could find a place on hip-hop stations, and “Kiss It Better,” a mid-tempo anthem rife with electric guitars and a straight-ahead chorus…..” –Billboard
“….Anti” is a chaotic and scattershot album, not the product of a committed artistic vision, or even an appealingly freeform aesthetic, but rather an amalgam of approaches, tones, styles and moods. Depending on the moment, she is an electric vocalist or an indifferent one, an emotional savant or a naif, a singer who understands what her voice is best at and one who sounds like she’s merely following directions…..”– The New York Times
“…..As with Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled album, it feels like a very deliberate attempt at making a critic-pleasing, award-gobbling classic, perhaps at the expense of what makes Rihanna so good. In fact, “Work” aside, none of the songs really quicken the BPM, favoring instead textured atmospherics, and, in the album’s second half, a stripped-back minimalism that might scare casual fans…..”– The Guardian
“….Of course, the superstar’s latest includes the kind of bangers that she does best, but the LP also sees her going more experimental and more stripped-back than we’ve ever heard from the singer….” –Fuse
“….Had Rihanna stuck with the aesthetic of “Anti’s” first half and utilized a few of the bonus tracks (specifically, “Good Night Gotham”), we might be looking at a career pinnacle. Instead we get an artist sticking to her guns and challenging herself. With Rihanna, you’d expect no less. Grade: B.” – Cleveland.com
“….The record was preceded by the Drake-featuring single ‘Work’, which was also released on Wednesday and received a mixed response on social media. The album is likely to be equally divisive, featuring none of last year’s hit singles (such as ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ and the Paul McCartney and Kanye West-featuring ‘FourFiveSeconds’) and often seeming more like a low-key mixtape than of the most-anticipated records of the last few years…..” -NME
A new album, and perhaps also a new direction. But it’s clear that after our usual November releases, we’ve got something entirely different. Now the question is, what will the navy think of all of this now that they’ve been “gifted” the long-awaited release. You can see Rihanna’s ‘Anti’ cover art below!