Don't be fooled by the title of Rihanna's fifth album — Loud isn't a guitar record. In fact, it sounds like Rihanna had Thriller on repeat when she was putting it together. Thankfully, the 11 songs are customized to her brand of skittering club beats. Rihanna sounds melodic and sexy throughout, tearing through "Only Girl (In the World)" like a tiger on the prowl. On "What's My Name?" she and Drake go through a bout of mutual seduction for a full four minutes. It's kind of naughty, slightly slinky, and totally voyeuristic. On club bangers "S&M" (an extension of sorts of last year's leather-geared Rated R) and "Raining Men (with hip-hop goddess Nicki Minaj), she hits the dance floor with blasts of mischievous fun. StarGate's typically loopy production ties together the best of it. But the ballads are a little gooey, especially "Fading," which piles on the bedroom whispers. You're better off fooling around in the club. — Jara Anton
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