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Hard to believe it’s been over ten years since Rihanna first whined her way into our lives with the dancehall fluff of “Pon de Replay.”While other promising R&B diva-lets of that era (Amerie, Cassie, JoJo, Kelis, Ciara, Christina Milian) have fallen off the radar or struggled to maintain relevance, RiRi, for whatever reasons – Jay-Z’s magnanimous patronage; a timely embrace of ‘80s-cribbing electro-dance; force of elusive, weirdly chameleonic personality – has only grown in prominence, becoming one of the most inescapable pop stars of our times, racking up a dozen-plus #1 singles.

Which brings us to ANTI.After blitzing us with seven full-lengths in eight years (including four consecutive Novembers), Rihanna took a three-year breather from the album cycle – although she was hardly absent in the interim – resurfacing recently with a curious collection that is, if not quite her best album (both Good Girl Gone Bad and Loud still make for mighty compelling front-to-back listens), certainly her most intriguing.

In the lilting, Drake-abetted “Work” (which circles back to the riddims of her native Caribbean after a decade dominated by Euro-pop) it’s already garnered (so far) one more notch in her chart-topper belt and another solid entry for her eventual, preordained-classic singles comp; the lighters-up power-smolder of “Kiss It Better” seems liable to follow suit.But neither feels like predictable 2016 chart fare, and the remainder of the album is stranger still, from the minute-long, Stevie-esque jazz-fusion bauble “James Joint” to an improbably effective, almost seven-minute Tame Impala cover.

As a whole, ANTI feels adventurous but refreshingly low-stakes; a woozy, mostly mid-tempo mood piece rounded out with an unexpected outburst of understated pop classicism.All of which makes for a pleasantly approachable, eminently listenable album – but not exactly the stuff of world-conquering arena tours.So it’ll be interesting to see how much of this Sunday’s spectacle actually draws from the album’s tracklist. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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