Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-12-23


David Guetta: Nothing but the Beat (Glassnote, 2011) In which the Frenchman who inflicted the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" on a hapless America--brute! vulgarian! snailsucker! 'ho!--bids for chart success as if he needs to be more famous than he already is. All power synths and squirmy earworms, dated beats and neutered Snoop Dogg, it offends club sophisticates no less than living-room discophobes. But with four-on-the-floor dance music the nearest the actually popular pop world came to mindless rocking out in 2011, I only wish it had a few "I Gotta Feeling"s. Still, the two Nicki Minaj features come close, Taio Cruz does what he's sposed to for once, the preachment makes its escapist statement, and neutering Snoop is fine with both me and the ASPCA. Front-loaded in this 13-track Americanski version--as a reward for their sophistication, the Europeans get to fatten up on excess instrumentals--it should slim down further by ditching the last two tracks and climaxing with the Jennifer Hudson love anthem "Night of Your Life," where it simulates the soul that elsewhere is so beside the point. B+

Rihanna: Talk That Talk (Deluxe Edition) (Def Jam, 2011) Musically, this is pop without shame--her hookiest and most dance-targeted album, decorated with a thoughtful assortment of suitably titillating blats, noodles, dubs, groans, hiccups, boom-booms, cut-ups, speed-ups, xx samples, and spoken-word bits. Lyrically, it celebrates the relationship of sex to love rather than pain, dipping predictably on the heart songs and theme statements that slow down the second half, especially on the standard edition. Associating carnality with love as I do, I prefer it to her earlier albums because I find its many porny moments titillating. Sure Beyoncé is sexier in principle--I like smart girls, not bad girls, especially bad girls with a thing for worse men. But I believe in taking my titillation wherever it raises its spongy head. A-

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