Back in 2009, when she released her debut single TiK ToK, Ke$ha presented herself as wilfully trashy. Here was a pop singer who’d inserted a dollar sign into her stage name and sang about brushing her teeth with a bottle of whiskey.
However, her debut album Animal turned out to be against-the-odds enjoyable. It matched hooks with humour, and made the most of pop’s new obsession with heavily Auto-Tuned vocals. Ke$ha may have been silly, but she wasn’t stupid.
Even so, it’s perhaps surprising that she’s showing signs of artistic growth. Like her debut, Warrior is a collection of shamelessly commercial electro-pop, but on several songs, Ke$ha works in her love of 1970s rock.
Lead single Die Young begins with the sound of an acoustic guitar, while Thinking of You mixes punky riffs with her usual synths. She even drafts in Iggy Pop for a ridiculous duet called Dirty Love.
It’s one of several welcome surprises on the album. Love Into the Light is a smoky 1980s-style slowie with drum sounds perfect for the Cadbury’s gorilla. Only Wanna Dance With You sounds like Ke$ha covering a Strokes single, and even features two members of the New York indie band – for a supposedly low-rent pop singer, Ke$ha has a lot of trendy mates. Meanwhile, Wonderland is a country-tinged ballad which proves she can sing without Auto-Tune.
Perhaps inevitably, several tracks feature the dreaded dubstep breakdown, surely 2012’s most overused trend. And more troublingly, one or two songs sound very similar to recent hits by Katy Perry, with whom Ke$ha shares a producer (Dr Luke).
But taken as a whole, this is another surprisingly enjoyable album from a pop singer who has managed to broaden her approach without losing her USP.
In fact, Ke$ha’s trademark trashiness is still disturbingly infectious. It’s hard not to smile when she sings about getting it on with a ghost, or rhymes “sabre-toothed tiger” with “warm Budweiser”. However, even Iggy Pop has no answer to Ke$ha’s strangest come-on from their flirty duet: “Champagne tastes like p*** to me.”