Hip-hop, pop, reggae, arena rock—all the impulses that were introduced in Rihanna’s four previous albums—now come together in a perfectly logical synthesis on Loud. She relishes taboos, and she's happiest when danger’s afoot, like on the aptly titled “S&M” or the nakedly seductive “Skin”. But for every song of brazen sexuality, there’s a vulnerable counterpart. “California King Bed”, “Complicated” and the two versions of “Love the Way You Lie”, remind us that it’s this superstar’s humanity that makes her so compelling.

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