Ke$ha‘s animals are in a tizzy over the release of her latest album Warrior — but how have the critics taken to it? While Idolator’s Mike Wass enthused about the album, other critics were less convinced. The overall consensus is that the album hits high marks sonically, but her big rock collaborators go largely wasted (with the exception of the polarizing Iggy Pop duet), and there wasn’t as much evolution as K$ had teased when recording the album. Still, in a year with a lot of mediocre pop releases, Ke$ha’s will probably be remembered as one of the best.
Read below for all the reviews.
The New York Times thought that the album announced Ke$ha’s arrival and played with her ephemerality-of-life theme well: “There’s no revelation here, only strong fun. Always, she’s loud; using several different voices, she pins you. In songs like ‘Die Young’ and ‘C’Mon,’ in party-defiant mode, Kesha bellows her hooks, full and clear; the tone and body and trueness of pitch don’t seem to be faked… The album’s persistently cheery idea is living as if you were going to die soon, which is different from living as if you wanted to die soon. She stresses the idea so often, it becomes almost high-minded[.]”
MTV News thought the album was exhilarating, even if it was still a mixed bag: “The end result is an album brimming with thoroughly oddball pop, an unapologetic party-starter that pushes all the things folks took issue with on her Animal debut (the bleating robo vocals, the blaring electro beats, the general IDGAF-iness of the lyrics) to the outer limits. Those qualities may hinder its commercial success, though they also make for a genuinely thrilling listen.”
Entertainment Weekly liked the album, even if they noted that its similarities to Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream were notable: “Elsewhere, Ke$ha’s digitally candy-coated vocals are almost indistinguishable from her lollipop-bra cohort’s. Of course, that only makes the party-rap breakdowns better, because there’s still one thing that’s 100 percent Ke$ha. When you need someone to rhyme ‘saber-toothed tiger’ with ‘warm Budweiser,’ you know who to call.”
Spin‘s rather complexly written review noted that while Warrior is an improvement on its predecessor, it didn’t necessarily deliver on the hype: ”Too much too little too late: Warrior is likable enough, but not only can’t it match its predecessor, it’s not nearly as exhilarating or disruptive as what fellow slizzered California trashdancer Dev or assorted K-poppers have done in the past two years with basically the same raw materials. So, kinda disappointing, sure — but hardly the end of the world.”
The Guardian was unimpressed with the record: “With or without swearing, her blunt-force pop, mainly produced by the emperor of strident electronica, Dr Luke, offers more pain than pleasure. Auto-Tune, deployed all over the record, turns Kesha’s voice into a robo-squawk, and not in a good way: the title track, for example, would be a more persuasive call to arms (‘We are the misfits, the bad kids, the degenerates’) if there were a shred of emotion in the vocals.”
Slant thought that after all the talk about her major rock collaborators, it was a bummer to hear so much slickly produced pop: “For all the ostensible ‘growth’ and experimentation on display, though, Ke$ha doesn’t have much to show for it. If she’s going to backbench all of her high-profile collaborators in favor of more of the same from Dr. Luke and Max Martin, she’s ultimately just the equivalent of a groupie with a major-label record deal.”
The Los Angeles Times noted the album’s juvenility, even as they praised its infectious sound: “Enter Kesha, who on her second album, Warrior has perfected the art of aspirational rebellion and released a joyous celebration of defiance. By stomping just at the edge of parental propriety and sneaking in (mostly) well-crafted lyrics, her new record confirms her place as the loosest of the dance divas, one who not only preaches on the art of the party like few since Andrew W.K., but who also delivers the message through inventive, beat-heavy musical cannonballs, most produced by hitmaker Dr. Luke, that pummel with pleasure.”