Review: Anti

I am not a longstanding Rihanna fan. Her initial pop hits came out when it was the last kind of music I wanted to listen to, though in recent years the occasional song has started to catch my attention. Cue ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ last summer and she had me.

So the build up to Anti was one that I, like many, was hotly anticipating, was this going to be a treasure trove of gems like ‘BBHMM’? No it isn’t, and so many have seen the album as anti-climatic on this alone. Though this makes me wonder about the title choice…

But let’s not jump to conclusions. Anti doesn’t have the blockbuster hits we were waiting for and it isn’t what we expected, but it is something entirely different. Rather than the big hits many of us are used to, only one single-worthy song appears on the album, the upbeat, not-your-typical-dance-tune ‘Work’. The song boasts a reggae-pop feel alongside Rhianna’s Barbadian patois, and even despite the big-name collaboration with Drake, feels more personal than her usual work.

This can be said for the whole album, with Consideration bringing a similar style and the hook-line ‘I’ve got to do thinks my own way darling’ but still asserting the confidence and sass of the Rihanna we all know when she tells us ‘let me cover your shit in glitter I can make it gold’.

The second track James Joint brings a chilled out, almost drug induced feel which echoes the title, and only lasting 1:12 seems like a strange experiment in a different style, and the lingering absence it leaves is haunting.

Other standout songs include the catchy Kiss It Better, the atmospheric Desperado which evokes the Old West and southern borders, and Needed me which combines her confident sass with a slower, more melodic form.

Overall this album isn’t the standout pinnacle of her career album that we were all waiting for. It is something much deeper, much more personal, with Rihanna evoking her roots and experimenting with her sound and that is far more important for both the industry and her career.

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Review: Death of a Bachelor

4.5 stars

What do you do when your audience grows up? For artists who are producing music for even more than five or ten years this is a serious question but Panic! at the Disco seem to have completely nailed it.

Death of a Bachelor is their fifth studio album and once again they have achieved the fantastic feat of pursuing a slightly different style for each album while maintaining their signature sound.

While this doesn’t have the marked difference in genre that we find in Pretty. Odd their latest album is slightly different to the alternative, electro pop, baroque sound of their other previous albums. The synthesis of rock and pop, alongside the title signifies a turning point in Brendan Urie’s own career, as well as perhaps an acknowledgement that their audience from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out are no longer angsty teens but grown adults who are also going through changes in their lives.

For this reason the Fall Out Boy-esque feel of songs like Victorious and Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time can be taken as somewhat ironic, as they are consigned to the memory books by songs like House of Memories and Death of a Bachelor itself.

Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time is a standout track with what seems to be a hark back to rose tinted, alcohol sodden good times through the repeated refrain of ‘champagne, cocaine, gasoline’ but the song is upbeat and powerful enough to feel empowering rather than elegiac.

It is catchy lyrics like this and those of The Good, the Bad and the Dirty that have most likely given this album it’s success with a pop feel, but still far enough removed from the usual chart fayre to be refreshing.

Listening in track order does have the unfortunate effect of an underwhelming ending, with a compulsion to skip starting to kick back in; we clearly want to hang on to the good times too. However let’s face it, in a world where Spotify and shuffle exists the track listing order matters far less than it did for the band’s first album.

With the ending the album harks back to the show tune quality seen particularly in earlier albums but with a definitive twist: This Impossible Year is a ballad style song pulled straight from Broadway, with an earnestness and sincerity that completely contradicts the more cynical showman tracks like There’s a Good Reason These Tables are Numbered Honey. While it is different, and a great song of itself, it isn’t the Panic! everyone loves and knows and is likely to be sidelined in favour of the catchier, dancier, more riotous tracks.

Now quite literately a one man band, this album is really a solo effort from Urie but his decision to keep to the band’s brand speaks volumes. Because of this we can’t underestimate the personal element of this album for both Urie and his fans. It is almost certainly a celebration of and farewell to a certain era, but hopefully it won’t be the final farewell. If this fantastic album is anything to go by, Panic! is set for a very successful future.

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