Album: Rihanna, Loud (Def Jam)

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The Independent Culture

So blank she almost fades to white, so slender she almost disappears from view, Rihanna is the archetypal modern pop star: the spindly skeleton of an umb-er-ella-ella-ella over which any canvas can be stretched.

On the Barbadian singer's fifth album there's no input from Jay-Z, Timbaland or even LA Red, and there's no "Umbrella", just acres of robotic R&B, digital dancehall, perfunctory pop and boring balladry, plus obligatory celeb cameos. Rihanna: face of Halle, soul of HAL.