1. “Consideration” (ft. SZA)
A confident drum kit starts off Rihanna’s return: “I got to do things my own way darlin’ / Will you ever let me / Will you ever respect me?” Dang. Tell us how you really feel, Rih! SZA joins in with a mesmerizing hook, proving that Rihanna has bars and good taste. This song is a solid banger, starting the album out strong a sending a clear message: this one is all mine.
2. “James Joint”
On a dreamier note, “James Joint” comes in to remind us of Rihanna’s one true love, self-explanatory title and all. It’s a nice interlude and an in-your-face reminder that Rih doesn’t care what you think.
3. “Kiss it Better”
Here, Rihanna brings in a guitar riff on a romantic pop anthem. “Kiss It Better” does what Rihanna does best: demand loving just the way she wants it. “Here to take me back / who cares when it feels like…” she sings, lamenting the “are we together or not” drama so many of us experience on the regular. This song could easily blast out of a boombox, raised over a heartthrob’s head in the climactic scene of a teen drama. Alternatively, it will blast out of our laptops for the next month.
4. “Work” (ft. Drake)
In the most dancehall-inspired track on the album, Drake joins Rihanna to put in “Work.” It’s upbeat, forcing you to dance whether you’re in your seat or on your feet, but features some pretty trying lyrics. Who hasn’t needed to put in work to make their relationship last?
This one is rhythmic, dark, and dramatic. We’re here for Rihanna’s bad gal cowboy phase.
The falsetto “woo” chorus on this song is its namesake, but the beat and Rihanna’s haunting lyrics set it off: “I bet she could never make you cry / cause the scars on your heart are still mine.” Buckle up, kids. We’ve got a breakup anthem.
7. “Needed Me”
Building off the previous track, this one follows strong, insisting “you needed me” over a strong bass as she insists, “didn’t I tell you I was a savage?” It’s got Weeknd vibes with a signature Rihanna attitude.
8. “Yeah, I Said It”
There can’t be a Rihanna album without a come-hither song, but this one is a slow jam, which is unusual for her. As is the trend with this album, she owns it. Here, she drives home sultry vocals over a similarly sexy piano-driven beat.
9. “Same Ol’ Mistakes”
On this six-minute Tame Impala cover, Ri shows off her pipes. It’s not only a good cover, but also a standout song on the album. With her voice controlling the track, it’s both trippy and introspective. Remember, y’all: she’s not just pop.
10. “Never Ending”
The Dido influence is strong here, with this sad folk song allowing Rihanna to explore an angle we’ve never seen her take. “And I can’t feel my body now. . .It’s pulling me apart this time / it’s never-ending,” she sings, lamenting what it’s like to feel love again without being able to feel it at all. It’s heavy, but the tune is light and listenable.
11. “Love on the Brain”
This track is all #TBT, giving you as much heart-wrenching falsetto and doo-wop as you can handle. “Must be love on the brain / that’s got me feeling this way,” she sings, echoing the heartbroken lyrics of “Stay” with all the catchy rhythm of a ’50s radio track, backup singers and all.
At Rihanna’s most Amy Winehouse moment, she sings about whiskey and ashtrays, letting you hear the wear-and-tear on her voice for a brief two minutes. This one is a must-listen, as it feels like an Adele deep cut with Rih’s trademark bad girl edge. It’s both sad and hopeful, triumphant and defeated. Strings add to the drama, giving you the emotion that’s usually only reserved for Rihanna’s social media. Most of all, it’s honest, it’s refreshing, and it’s a win on an album that feels all her own.
13. “Close To You”
The album’s closing track is the closest comparison to “Stay,” but it’s also wholly original for Rihanna. It’s soft, sweet, and stripped, lilting out with her words, “if you let me, I’ll be there by now / close to you.” No hard beat, nothing overpowering. Just Rihanna singing what she wants
Click here to listen to the album.