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Ke$ha — Warrior: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Dec. 4, 2012

Ke$ha avoids a sophomore slump in her rock-infused second album, Warrior.

Though Warrior has a different sound than 2010’s electro-pop hit Animal, Ke$ha’s effective genre-mixing is unlikely to alienate her fans. Infectious lead single “Die Young” — which incorporates a catchy mix of pop, acoustic guitar and rap elements — well represents the mix of musical styles on the rest of the album.

The opening title track is a solid power ballad with a dubstep sound, and “Dirty Love,” which features Iggy Pop, has enough guitar to pass as pop-rock.

Fans of Animal will be pleased by the subject matter of Warrior — plenty of material is devoted to sex and partying, and Ke$ha’s signature lyrics continue to toe the line between crass and hilarious. However, she also left room to expand her repertoire with “Thinking of You” and “Wherever You Are,” which are more personal than any of her previous releases.

The album’s weakness is in its second half, which is dominated by a string of danceable but unoriginal pop tunes that simply blend together. Warrior might not be a great or even memorable album, but Ke$ha’s appealing new direction and irresistible beats make it a perfect guilty pleasure.

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