Label: Westbury Road, Roc Nation
Released: Jan. 27

If anyone pulled a big 180 this year, it was Rihanna. In the long, teasing wait for Rihanna’s eighth studio album, it was easy to get excited for another energy-filled, dance-floor-packing album, the sort that we’ve come to expect from the pop queen. Instead, Anti reimagined what Rihanna can do and what we should expect from her. The album is perfect bedroom pop, what you listen to while sprawled on your bed lamenting a lost love or fantasizing about a new one. Anti feels more complete than any of her previous albums, which often seemed like mere vehicles for No. 1 singles. Anti is the opposite of that (aside from “Work,” her collab with Drake). It’s an album that’s worth listening all the way through, for the deep cuts and unexpected moments; you don’t want to miss the excellent cover of Tame Impala’s “Same Ol’ Mistakes” or the whiskey-soaked, last-call anthem, “Higher.”

Vocally, she’s never sounded better, and the stoner vibe makes so much sense, it’s amazing it hadn’t arrived earlier. But don’t be worried about the lack of bops—the bonus track “Sex With Me” is one of the best pop songs of the year. I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. —Kerensa Cadenas