There’s something about Rihanna. And her producers.
The singer’s new album — her seventh in seven years — is like many of her other releases, full of songs that are catchy, fun and addictive. Her albums are almost like listening to a NOW compilation disc.
Unapologetic is no different. It’s full of future hits, and not a single miss.
Phresh Out the Runaway, which kicks off the album, does so with a bang. And there are more: Pour It Up, which has Rihanna sounding like a female version of The-Dream, is appealing; Jump samples Ginuwine’s Pony — and it’s surprisingly good; and the David Guetta-helmed Right Now is European-flavored and upbeat.
Even Rihanna’s duet with her ex Chris Brown on Nobody’s Business, which samples Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel, will make you move your feet. Lyrically, though, the song is somewhat dismissive. “Ain’t nobody’s business,” she sings. OK, then stop tweeting one another.
When Rihanna slows it down, she’s still on point: Her duet with singer Mikky Ekko on the piano tune Stay is touching; the mid-tempo first single, the Sia-penned Diamonds, is enjoyable; and What Now builds nicely from its calming verse to its electrified hook.
— Mesfin Fekadu
David Baldacci brings back Army Special Agent John Puller in The Forgotten, a follow-up to 2011’s Zero Day. In this new thriller, Puller receives a letter from his aunt that propels him into a conspiracy.
Paradise, Fla., has a picturesque setting, and from all appearances, the town seems to be the perfect place to live. Puller arrives to visit his aunt, but discovers she has died. He believes she was murdered, but the local police aren’t interested in his opinion.
In his search for the truth, Puller must endure the wrath of both local law enforcement and the people who knew his aunt. The town of Paradise might have a name that invokes thoughts of Utopia, but the beauty masks a devastating secret.
Baldacci is a master when it comes to writing about small-town conspiracies and a lone hero who fights against all odds to clean up corruption. The narrative moves slowly, so the reader has a chance to solve the case along with Puller. It might seem straightforward, but the final reveal will surprise even hardcore thriller junkies.
— Jeff Ayers
Take Me Home
One Direction’s sophomore album, Take Me Home, comes one year after the group released its debut, Up All Night, in the United Kingdom. The latter came out in America just eight months ago, has already sold 1.3 million units and is still in the Top 25.
The wholesome-looking quintet has joined Justin Bieber in the affections of girls everywhere, with their puppy eyes, trendy haircuts and rather good voices. And the new album delivers on the brief, vaguely catchy songs that appeal to both the romantic and the wild side of teenage girls.
The record relies heavily on perky and melancholic guitars, and on romantic invitations like “I want to be your last first kiss” on Last First Kiss, which then veer into the leery “Tonight let’s get some” on the very honest and upbeat first single, Live While We’re Young. It’s full of riffs that haven’t been heard since the 1990s boy bands took their final bows.
Take Me Home is mainly produced by the same folks behind the group’s debut, including Rami Yacoub, Carl Falk and Savan Kotecha. English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran returns, co-writing two ballads (Little Things, Over Again) that break up the overall upbeat preppiness with memorable choruses. Over Again will be played over and over again by the lovelorn.
The album feels relentless in rhythm, sometimes even during the ballads, with a homogenous sound and message — like a teenage boy who says all the right words in a rush to get what he wants. But this time they’re only singing the right words to get to your wallets and adoration. And they’re most likely going to get it.
— Cristina Jaleru