This, for better or worse, is clearly the music Rihanna likes: leftfield, stoned and strange. It is Rihanna without hits. This strange album, released without warning over the internet for free, may well be a reflection of the fact that not even her own backers really expects this to be a commercial blockbuster. It is more an exercise in rebranding, transforming the hit girl into a serious artist. But it hasn’t won me over.
I think it will satisfy the appetite of fans and the curiosity of the internet for the moment but poses interesting questions about what happens next. Because being cool and credible is all very well. But what, really, is a pop star without hits? Rihanna might be about to find out.