Leading up to the release of her second full-length album, “Warrior,” Ke$ha described her new recordings as a combination of ’70s rock and radio-friendly dance music. While it’s clear that “Warrior” is certainly much more focused on the latter, with the infusion of organic percussion and guitars, Ke$ha’s signature talk-sing style and unforgettable lyrics makes “Warrior” one of the most enjoyable pop releases of the year.
However, a good pop star should know that when staging a “musical evolution,” it’s best to pander to your original fan base. Unfortunately, Ke$ha includes a fair number of songs that barely sound any different than her 2010 debut. Tracks like the lackluster opener “Warrior” and the slightly more interesting “Supernatural” are well-worn territory with no new elements or never-heard-before lyrics.
But the slight variation of Ke$ha’s typical hardcore partying narrative in “Warrior” is one that highlights darker elements of the club scene: love and mortality. In the surprisingly vulnerable “C’Mon,” the line “I don’t wanna think about what’s gonna be after this/ I just wanna live right now” stands out as a confession of the fear of what happens once the party is over. This, combined with Ke$ha’s committed vocal turn, makes “C’Mon” sound less like her standard club banger and more like a diary entry.
The organic elements introduced into the production are the real centerpieces of the album, with unexpected surprises plotted out along the way, making the album a sort of production guessing game. The track “Only Wanna Dance with You,” using the Strokes as her backing band, reveals a truly shocking revelation: Ke$ha can sing, and she sounds significantly better growling over guitars than rapping over Dr. Luke’s manufactured dance tracks.
As if the rock-based additions couldn’t get any more interesting, the country-rock ballad “Wonderland” is reminiscent of Lynard Skynard’s “Freebird.” Sounding almost as epic, Ke$ha bemoans the loss of old friends and simpler times over plodding organs and frayed guitar chords.
While “Warrior” may not quite be the game-changer fans were expecting her to produce, it does bring Ke$ha into a new light and asserts that underneath the loud makeup and obsessive use of glitter lies a heart and a rather effective lyricist.
Overall rating: 3 stars