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A Slightly Softer Album...
on January 17, 2014
I honestly never thought I'd end up becoming a Kesha fan, but here I am. While I greatly enjoyed Animal for all it's upbeat party songs, but this album features a slightly more serious (and softer) set of songs. I wouldn't say it's better or worse than Animal, just different. I'll now go through all of the songs in order and talk a bit about each.
"Warrior" (5/5) - The album starts off strong with its title track. This is sort of a power anthem for all the misfits out there. Like many previous Kesha songs, this one touches on themes of reckless freedom and the struggle to maintain that freedom to exist outside common cultural norms. Unlike previous songs, though, this one is the most aggressive about asserting its message, and helps start the album off with a punch of energy!
"Die Young" (5/5) - I love this song. It's really a testament to living in the moment and the fragility of life. While it's technically a "party" song, it has an edge to the lyrics that reminds us to beware our impending mortality and thus strive to live life to the utmost fullest - all wrapped up in a catchy chorus.
"C'mon" (5/5) - Much like "Die Young" this song also attempts to convey the idea of living for the moment ("I don't want to think about what's gonna be after this/I wanna just live right now") . Unlike "Die Young" though, this one couches the theme in a love story (or perhaps a 'lust' story?). Kesha's trademark sexuality is present and powerful here, making this song both lusty and yet also strangely touching.
"Thinking of You" (5/5) - This song talks about a cheating boyfriend. I get the sense it's a bit of a "revenge song" in that Kesha seems to be rubbing her fame in this unnamed guy's face. Fine enough, I suppose. It's not the deepest nor most interesting lyrics, but the music is good and holds my attention well. Also, I must note that it's worth getting the explicit version to hear Kesha say "suck my d***" in this song, which is pretty darn funny.
"Crazy Kids" (5/5) - I love the whistle-y background music in this song - it really adds an interesting sound to the song. Lyrically, this seems to be yet another sort of "anthem" to irreverent freedom and joyous indulgence for all the "crazy kids" out there, but unlike "Warrior" this one has a bit more of a subdued tone. The song really draws the listener into that world, as though we too can get a glimpse into what it's like to to truly not give a f*** and just enjoy life. It's beautiful.
"Wherever You Are" (5/5) - This one's another love-related song, but this time about a lost love. With lyrics like "wherever you are/know that our love will never die" one would think this is about Kesha pining for this previous boyfriend. I see it more as the idea that she's tucked away a special place in her brain for that memory, not so much that she's actively pining for him. Even when we break up with someone, that emotional connection isn't so easily severed and those feelings just sort of settle into the back of our minds somewhere - pushed aside but not entirely forgotten. Either way, it's a lovely song.
"Dirty Love ft. Iggy Pop" (5/5) - This is a great, high energy song! It's really a tribute to shameless, totally physical, unbridled sexuality, and I love it! This song also helps show off her vocal range. There's not much more to say but that.
"Wonderland" (5/5) - This song is absolutely lovely, but it's also rather depressing. Not depressing in the traditional sense, but it captures that horrible, creeping feeling that will claim us all eventually - that feeling of getting older and coming to realize that the previous fun, carefree lifestyle is forever lost to time, not because the specific situations are unable to be recreated, but because they have lost their meaning to someone who's grown more experienced in life and has lost the careless naivete necessary to full appreciate those experiences. The atmosphere in this song is a special kind of existential sadness not easily captured by a pop song, and I applaud Kesha for it, even if it's not always the easiest thing to listen to.
"Only Wanna Dance With You" (5/5) - This is yet another love song, this one showing off Kesha's more emotional side. Not a whole lot to say about it - it's a rather pretty song, and I like it.
"Supernatural" (5/5) - As though to contrast the more emotional "Only Wanna Dance With You", this song is very clearly about exploring love purely through sensual bliss and physical pleasure. However, it is no less beautiful than her more emotional songs. I really appreciate this positive portrayal of sexual expression and this is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album.
"All That Matters (The Beautiful Life)" (5/5) - While this song continues the thematic elements from "Die Young" and "C'mon", to me it's really more of a sequel to "Crazy Beautiful Life" off the Cannibal EP. In this song, Kesha even more strongly affirms the value of seizing the moment and enjoying the many pleasures of life to their fullest. It's a very uplifting song that reminds us that "all that matters is the beautiful life" and that's all that really should matter given the brief time we have to exist...
"Love Into The Light" (5/5) - From the title one might be lead to believe this is just another standard love song, but it's really not. This song is actually about imperfection (and specifically denouncing those who believe she has to be some sort of role model for society), and learning to love yourself with your flaws despite criticism from others. It's a nice song and a good addition to the album.
"Last Goodbye" (5/5) - This is a bonus song off of the Deluxe Edition of Warrior. This is another rather standard song about missing an ex-boyfriend, but it's nicely pulled off with genuine emotion and is pleasant to listen to.
"Gold Trans Am" (5/5) - This is also a bonus song from the Deluxe Edition. It has an almost country sound, and has a strangely patriotic theme to it ("love you till you're seeing stars and stripes", "gonna take you for a freedom ride") while also displaying Kesha's typically healthy sexual appetite. It's just a generally fun-sounding song, and an enjoyable listen.
"Out Alive" (5/5) - This is the third bonus song. This song has an apocalyptic feel to its lyrics. There's a real sense of impending doom in this song, and rather than feelings of desperation, there's more a sense of resignation. The narrator embraces the idea that struggling against fate is futile and instead endorses the idea of just accepting it and essentially "living it up tonight" and riding out the end of the world in a haze of hedonistic pleasures (a point emphasized by the upbeat tune). It's also possible that this song is not literally about the apocalypse but is actually just using apocalyptic imagery as a metaphor for the human condition. Lines such as "no one's getting out alive/all the gold on Earth/it won't buy time" seem to imply the idea of mortality and how no one, no matter how much money they have and how much they struggle, can avoid their inevitable demise, so they "might as well give up the fight" and essentially just try to enjoy life as much as possible before it's gone (i.e. "live it up tonight"). Well, whichever interpretation one may choose, it's still quite a powerful and visceral song.
"Past Lives" (5/5) - This is the last bonus song on the album, and quite possibly the best love song Kesha's ever written. I like the use of reincarnation as a theme since it's a unique take on a love song, and besides that, the song just sounds so sweet and romantic. Plus, points to Kesha for having a line where she imagines a past life where she's a man in a polygynous tribe ("maybe you were one of my wives in a long lost tribe").
Overall Score (5/5): NOTE this score is not a mathematical average of previous scores; it's my subjective overall score. While I enjoyed this release, I recognize how it might alienate her previous fans. A lot of the autotune-heavy, electronic sound that was apparent in previous songs like "Tik Tok" and "Take It Off" is conspicuously toned down for this album, and fans of that previous sound might be disappointed in this release. There are also a larger number of more somber, serious songs on this album, and those who wanted more of the light-hearted stuff from her earlier efforts are also going to be turned off by this album (it's as though thematically, she has shifted from mindless partying songs to songs that reflect the more mature idea of living in the moment, and the occasional bittersweet feelings of losing those times). I still enjoyed it regardless. If you're not sure, then give it a listen before buying to see if it's up you alley. If you do decide to get it, I strongly recommend picking up the Deluxe version because all four included bonus songs are top-notch in quality, and definitely worth having.