After a seemingly endless wait, Rihanna’s eighth album ‘Anti’ finally dropped on Thursday morning, and the lack of warning meant critics were left scrambling for their notepads in the rush to publish reviews.
The star stunned fans by tweeting a link to a free download of the 13 tracks that make up ‘Anti’, while Tidal subscribers can also listen via the streaming service.
As the day went on, the first reviews of ‘Anti’ were published, and while RiRi has impressed some critics, a number have questioned whether the album was worth the fuss.
Here’s what they had to say…
This album is all about depth and texture.The prevailing rhythm is mid tempo. The mood is surly, as she affirms her right to do exactly what she wants. This is about establishing the notion that Rihanna is an artist in her own right, not just a glorified glove puppet.
‘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.
NME’s assessment of the final track:
‘Anti’ reminds us of its uneven second half with a soft, plaintive piano ballad. The piano plods along, not making much of a footprint, and Rihanna seems to pine for a long-distance lover (it’s not all that convincing – she’s more interesting with attitude). And then it sort of peters out. It’s a characteristically odd place to end an inconsistent album that does, on balance, have more strengths than weaknesses.
In a risk-averse world, there’s something brave about Anti, and at its best, its daring pays off: it remains to be seen whether it represents a momentary swerve off-piste or what you might call a complete Ri-Ri-invention.
If you were expecting another batch of radio-ready singles from Rihanna, she immediately dispels those notions with this punchy, broody banger. “Do things my own way, darlin’ / You should just let me / Why you will never let me grow?” she nimbly sings over a throbbing bass line, before newcomer SZA swoops in with a spellbinding chorus. It’s a confident, promising prelude to whatever else ‘Anti’ has in store.