Stuttering, distorted, mid-tempo beat and childishly taunting vocal, the opening track is a decidedly weird sketch of a song with no hooks, declaring: “I’ve got to do things my own way.”
2. James Joint
Loose, jazzy, electric piano and a concoction of random thoughts about sex and drugs, delivered with Rihanna’s most sensuous and smooth vocal.
3. Kiss It Better
This almost sounds like a pop song, albeit one that has been dragged into an underground cellar and subjected to waterboarding. A metallic guitar slinks beneath ominous, deep synths providing a base for Rihanna’s swaggering attitude.
Collaboration with Canadian rapper Drake, Work is a low down burble of fast-tripping lyrics delivered in a Barbadian mumble and a chanted chorus, or at least “wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo.” In the end, she runs out of steam before she can get to the final consonant, much like the song.
A dramatic mid-tempo groove with a western bell ringing out over shuddering drums, deeps synths and vocal samples, as Rihanna confronts a “Desperado / Sitting in a bar in Monte Carlo.” Singing “There ain’t nothing here for me” affirms the sense that this is an album of refusal and rejection.
Sounds like a Kanye West out-take, four minutes of slow stomping distortion with no discernible melody or groove and Rihanna’s vocals swathed in effects. “I don’t care about you no more” she sings. Could she be talking about her career?
7. Needed Me
The tempo of the album actually slows down further with this slight electro bubble of synthetic desire, featuring a loose, casual vocal of romantic rejection. “Didn’t they tell you I was a savage?” More atmosphere than actual song.
8. Yeah, I Said
And slower still, the groove almost comes to a complete standstill with this airy gasp of desire. “Yeah, I said it babe,” Rihanna repeatedly insists on a song that has absolutely nothing to say.
9. Same Ol’ Mistakes
Imagine Australian band Tame Impala with Rihanna singing instead of frontman Kevin Parker. That’s pretty much what this is - a long, slow, dreamy, psychedelic synth groove. “I feel like a brand new person” she sings. In the context of Anti, it sounds like a work of pop genius.
10. Never Ending
Picked acoustic guitar ballad about falling in love with a sweet melody a little too reminiscent in places of Dido’s Thank You.
11. Love On The Brain
An actual song. With its guitar arpeggio, swirling organ, simple chord progression and repeat backing vocals, this is basically a standard, mid-tempo retro soul anthem, with Rihanna channelling Amy Winehouse. Again, in the context of Anti , it sounds like a work of pop genius.
This sounds suspiciously like the same song as Love On The Brain, or at least the same chord sequence, woozily jammed out after a little too much to smoke and drink, with Rihanna extemporising a vocal about love and drugs, two subjects she frequently seems to confuse. “And I know I could be more creative and come up with poetic lines” she sings. Well, that’s what she used to pay proper songwriters to do.
13. Close To You
Slow piano ballad brings Rihanna’s experiment to an elegant close with an actual verse, bridge and chorus, delivered with sweet conviction and jazzy runs of bass.