Review: Anti by Rihanna

Anti by RihannaInevitably one compares Anti, Rihanna’s long-gestating, long-overdue album, to Beyoncé Knowles’ surprise self-titled effort over two years ago. Seemingly built to stake some hipster R&B ground and impress the music press – although the many delays surrounding its release, dating back as far as 2013, certainly has gotten them talking – Anti has some bright spots, but feels occasionally random and occasionally unfinished. She tries a bunch of new things here, to mixed results. Tracks like “Kiss It Better” and album closer “Close To You” revels in its minimal approach, resulting in genuinely beautiful songs. Others, like “Woo” and the decidedly random Tame Impala cover “Same Ol’ Mistakes” – she just sings over a minus one of the original, essentially – somehow work. But then some things don’t work at all, for different reasons: “Higher” was a lot of yelping, and “Yeah, I Said It” just ended without any satisfaction. So, yeah, this album stuttered to the finish line, and suddenly, it’s out. You wonder if it could have benefited from a bit more polish, or if we would have been too impatient to wait any longer. Beyoncé’s stealth release of a very shiny record hiked expectations on this front, too. It’s a tough position Rihanna put all of us in. Maybe we just take what we get? [NB]3/5

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