International dance-pop artist Ke$ha is like a burnout little sister who borrows money from your parents for textbooks and spends it on cigarettes and beer. She does, however, occasionally get her act together, wash her hair, show up for dinner on time and make you forget about all of the times she passed out on the front lawn or had to be picked up from the police station. “Warrior,” the star’s latest album, is the musical manifestation of just that.
The deluxe version of the record contains no fewer than 16 songs, most of which promote the reckless lifestyle of Ke$ha’s grunge-esque image. The artist has always had a penchant for crafting choruses, and “Warrior” continues this tradition with strong efforts like “Die Young” and “Dirty Love,” on the latter of which she outshines Iggy Pop with her bluesy rock ‘n’ roll wails. An interesting new addition to her repertoire is the inclusion of instrumental breakdowns reminiscent of Daft Punk and Justice. It is a technique that works on some songs, like the album’s eponymous track, but that falters on others, such as “Supernatural.”
Some things remain the same, like her trademark talky rapping style and heavy deployment of autotune. However, several songs feature a more stripped-down, vulnerable Ke$ha, one who has removed her eye makeup and nose ring for the sake of melancholic ballads such as “Wonderland” and “Past Lives.” She steps away from her characteristic growling on “Love Into the Light,” which showcases a pleasantly introspective version of the grungy girl we love to hate. Lyrics like “I’m not a model, I’m not a saint/ I’m sorry but I am just not sorry ’cause I swear and ’cause I drink” make it a bit more rebellious and interesting than Ke$ha’s many other party songs.
The aesthetic differences between the album’s better songs, “Love Into The Light” and “Dirty Love,” indicate Ke$ha’s versatility as a singer and songwriter, as well as her ability to include numerous genres within her grunge-pop style. While “Warrior” lacks the distinctive punch of previous albums “Animal” and “Cannibal,” the record packs enough heat to keep fans satisfied until the next round.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Dec. 4 print edition. Alexandria Ethridge is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.