1- Where are the singles?
Not like, where are the good tracks, but Rihanna put out two great singles last year in Bitch Better Have My Money and FourFiveSeconds, and they’re not on this record. The latter ain’t on Kanye’s either, so maybe it was just...a single? Which is charmingly retro if so. BBHMM probably wouldn’t fit the tone of this record, but FourFiveSeconds would be a great addition.
2. Rihanna can sing.
I’ve never thought of Rihanna as a singer really. She’s great to listen to because her tone is interesting, but the songs aren’t structured around showing off her voice in the same way other popstars’ songs are. But man, she sings great on this record, and that’s down to the production as much as anything. On Higher, she’s raw and loud and raspy, and it’s ace.
3. More on Higher
Higher is like an old doo-wop song or something, and the opening line - “This whisky got me feelin’ pretty, so pardon if I’m impolite” - is classy af. Her vocal squeaks and slurs are full of character, which sets her apart from other vocalists. She’s really straining on this song, but man, it’s about being drunk and confessing your undying love for someone, so it works. It’s too short, definitely, but at the same time, if Rihanna confesses her undying love for you and asks you to go smoke a joint with her...well, you’re not gonna listen to her sing another verse are you?
4. Rihanna loves weed
Bloody loves it. Cannot get enough of it.
5. Work works.
Work is kind of an odd choice for the lead song from the record, though Drake’s on it, so really, it’s the only choice I suppose. But it’s not as bombastic as BBHMM, or as retro as FourFiveSeconds. It’s not a big song, but it’s interesting, the choices for the beat, the steel drum sound that comes in half way through, how almost everything drops out when Drake does come in. It’s, dare I say it, minimalist. Kanye must have been taking some big notes when Rick Rubin came in to strip Yeezus for parts.
6. Desperado isn’t, in fact, a tribute to the late Glenn Frey
Bit gutting, this, if I’m honest, although I think I’m probably the only one keen on a Rihanna country album.
7. The Tame Impala cover sucks
8. Close To You is the perfect closing track
Who’s playing bass on this track? I want to kiss whoever plays bass on this track right on the face. It’s definitely a two-sided record this, the last three tracks a bit of a nostalgia trip to old Motown - there’s even a cool gender-flip with Kanye (I think?) doing some backing vocals on Love On The Brain, and Rihanna doing her best Diana Ross impression. Close To You then is very end-of-the-night torch song. It feels like I Can’t Make You Love Me, or something like that.
9. I’m still not getting Tidal
I see you, Tidal, giving me a free record and offering me a 60 day free trial. I ain’t doing it. BUT, I do wonder whether other streaming services will take the place of labels, creating their own content exclusively for their platforms. I mean...it works for Netflix.
Here's that Tidal link
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