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Album: Rihanna, Loud (Mercury)

Perhaps trying to distance it from the darker world of sexual violence that dominated Rated R, Rihanna has described Loud as "really sassy and flirty", though listening to tracks like the masochist drama "Love the Way You Lie" and the bluntly-titled "S&M", this seems somewhat disingenuous.

As it is, the more interesting tracks are those with less salacious demands on her vulnerability, such as the big break-up power-ballad "California King Bed", which features her best vocal performance. But "sassy" just about sums up the weekend-starts-here anthem "Cheers (Drink to That)". However, there's a huge gulf between the rote emotions of the album's Stargate-produced electro-stomp hits and the electrifying appearance of Eminem on the concluding "Love the Way You Lie": it's like someone's put a rocket underneath the track, scorching all that went before.

DOWNLOAD THIS Love the Way You Lie; California King Bed; S&M