Rihanna’s Unapologetic: Album Review Roundup

By Henna Kathiya

Unapologetic is Rihanna’s seventh album in seven years–when you churn out that many albums people begin to expect each one to be better than the last. Does her album stand up amidst all the gossip and controversy? RiRi has been in the spotlight for quite some time now, and her choice to collaborate with Chris Brown on “Nobody’s Business” kept it shining brightly. It seems as if the songstress is taking on the mindset of the name of her album and being “unapologetic” for all things, especially given the chaos that her 777 Tour has turned into. See the critic’s reviews after the jump.

Fun and Addictive
“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.” – Mesfin Fekadu, Huffington Post.

Raising Expectations

“On paper, Rihanna releasing her seventh album in seven years would suggest a quantity-over-quality work ethic that’s bound to wear thin. But on “Unapologetic,” Rihanna proves once again that she can set — and often raise — the bar for modern pop music. Like previous Rihanna projects, “Unapologetic” is destined to crank out at least five singles over the next 12 months (or until it’s time for the next album, anyway).” -Andrew Hampp, Billboard.

She Keeps Her Cool
“[Rihanna] is steely and unforgiving and bulletproof, a pleasure-guided man-killer with concrete for skin. That doesn’t mean she’s never hurt on “Unapologetic” (Def Jam), which is one of her best albums, along with her 2007 breakthrough, “Good Girl Gone Bad,” and her 2010 pop peak, “Loud.” But even on the most vulnerable songs, she maintains her cool, never once verging on the maudlin. On an album full of dyspeptic relationships, it is the breath of cool, nourishing air.” –Jon Caramanica, New York Times.

Mixed Messages
On Rihanna’s seventh studio album, “Unapologetic” (Def Jam), the singer one-ups the exploitation industry by dueting with her former boyfriend and abuser, Chris Brown, to declare that their tempestuous romance is “Nobody’s Business.” Initial reaction: This dysfunctional couple has turned the track into a sick marketing ploy. You can even dance to it! The production casts the song in strings, piano and a four-on-the-floor kick drum, a canny merger of Chicago stepping music and golden-age house. Talk about a mixed message. – Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune.

Nothing New
“During its best moments, you’re struck by the suspicion that Unapologetic’s producers might be trying to undercut the lyrical content. Numb apparently returns to the subject of Rihanna’s personal life – “Can’t tell me nothin’ … I don’t care, get closer to me if you dare” – but the music doesn’t sound defiant: it lurches and drags along, an oppressive mass of slowed-down voices and grating electronics.”- Alexis Petridis, The Guardian.

Fast Food
Were all this effort in service of a new fast-food burger launch – “Unapologetic” is the aural equivalent — the pitch might read, “More defiant, now featuring dubstep!” Which is to say, while the new Rihanna record may be at times sonically exciting, what resides beneath the new bass-heavy, Skrillex-inspired music is still a fast-food burger, one with a lot of extra sauce and some very disturbing ingredients. – Randall Roberts, LA Times.