A wild child from LA, Ke$ha needs to learn some new tricks if she's to grow as an artist - and fast.
Ke$ha's Warrior continues to endorse a hedonistic strain of live it up
Pop hates a vacuum, but it loves a remake. When Kesha Rose Sebert emerged from Los Angeles with her 2010 debut Animal, it was difficult not to view her as Pink's brattish understudy. Signed to the Kemosabe Entertainment label of the Midas-touch producer Dr Luke when she was 18, she has since delighted in portraying the kind of potty-mouthed wild child most mums would keep well away from their own progeny. You can read of her adventures in My Crazy Beautiful Life, the "illustrated memoir" she recently published at the ripe old age of 25.
Now some three million album sales later, Ke$ha is also a "global ambassador", no less, for the animal welfare organisation Humane Society International. Amazing, then, that she has found time to make Warrior, a second album predominately overseen by Dr Luke. Its garish, attention deficit disorder arrangements often recall those of Animal, and songs such as Die Young and C'Mon confirm that Ke$ha still endorses a hedonistic strain of carpe diem. "That song is about acting like a jackass and drinking warm beer," the singer has said of the latter. Oh dear.
What's different this time round is the sheer diversity of the cast-list. Usual-suspect co-writers such as Max Martin and Greg Kurstin are augmented by Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, while the grandfather of garage rock Iggy Pop drops by to duet on the album's glam-rock flavoured standout Dirty Love. Coyne has co-written Past Lives - a quirky tale of reincarnated lovers with a pleasingly inventive lyric. "I built the pyramids for you, babe / just to see your face", sings Ke$ha, but musically speaking, the song never really achieves lift-off.
Elsewhere, 21st-century pop's autotune and pitch-glitch tics are well to the fore, not least on the album's queasy, bassline-imbued title track, a song that might leave some listeners disagreeably overstimulated, like toddlers who've had too much tartrazine. By the time we get to the 1970s ballad pastiche Wonderland, the album's endless reworkings of wild-youth lyrical themes have grown tired, and you wish Ke$ha would sing about a quiet night of catching up on her humanitarian work.
Pop can thrive on cheap, transient thrills, but Warrior sounds too contrived, too disparate. If Ke$ha is to have the staying power of Pink or Christina Aguilera, say, she will need to learn some new tricks - and soon.