Rihanna Good Girl Gone Bad

Rihanna Good Girl Gone Bad
Barbados’ pride and joy, Rihanna has enjoyed great success at the top of the charts with her first two albums: Music of the Sun and A Girl Like Me. There’s no doubt she’s had the singles to get here there (2005’s "Pon De Replay” and last year’s smash "SOS”) but like most artists in her field, maintaining quality throughout a full-length was problematic. As she told Entertainment Weekly recently, she knows this all too well and wanted to do something about it. With Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna has called on her A-game and achieved her goal of recording a solid, well-rounded album. Well, she’s at least found the right songwriters and producers to do so — she hasn’t, in fact, been credited as a songwriter. But as most R&B/pop artists can attest to, sometimes it’s better left in other people’s hands, and that’s definitely the case here. Infectious first single "Umbrella” benefits from Jay-Z’s spit and Christopher "Tricky” Stewart’s neon-lit hip-hop vibe, and both parties reappear throughout. One of this album’s biggest attractions will be Timbaland’s contributions; the slick bounce of "Sell Me Candy” isn’t his best but "Lemme Get That” picks it up by adding a heavy thrust to the bump that Jay-Z’s hook-stuffed rhymes heighten. Timbaland also brings in buddy Justin Timberlake to help pen and work the vocals for "Rehab,” which disappointingly sounds like an early version of "Cry Me A River” and fails to match Amy Winehouse’s song of the same name. But hey, J-T is in his early stages of this kind of work and it’s always of interest to hear what he’s got cookin’. And what would a Rihanna album be without unearthing an ’80s hit to cover? This time it’s New Order’s "Blue Monday,” which is filtered through loud guitars and emphasised by swooping electronic pop that sounds like a Girls Aloud single. It will no doubt be another hit. What I like best about this 19-year-old is her avoidance of vocal histrionics, which may not draw attention to her vocal ability but it’s a nice change in a genre where too many artists break into endless runs. Rihanna stays cool on Good Girl Gone Bad, shifting back and forth between the titular mood swings. And while she hasn’t exactly achieved her masterpiece, she’s found a group of songs that comprise a cohesive aural affair from A to Z. (Def Jam)