There are tough follow-up data, after which there’s Rainbow. For the reason that launch of Kesha’s second album, 2012’s Warrior, the pop shapeshifter’s music has taken a backseat to her contentious, difficult authorized battle with producer—and accused abuser—Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. Even immediately, the case is way from settled; the 2 proceed to hash out allegations and contractual sticking factors. However within the meantime, the grueling ordeal has made Kesha right into a feminist hero, whereas additionally forcing her to climate the storm of these, together with courts and her personal file label, who’ve taken Gottwald’s facet.
Understandably, these authorized machinations have made it tough for Kesha to get into the studio. Save for a collaboration with Zedd (the surging electro-pop anthem “True Colours”), Kesha has largely caught to reside exhibits to maintain her profession going. Unsurprisingly, these concert events really feel like communal catharsis, the place Kesha and her followers commiserate about oppressive assholes and shitty life conditions by tossing glitter, dancing up a storm, singing their hearts out, and (no less than briefly) not giving a fuck in regards to the outdoors world.
The impressed Rainbow replicates that liberating ambiance, the place confessional ballads and inspirational torch songs mingle with dance-pop jams and punkish rave-ups. This stylistic seize bag is way extra cohesive than it sounds, primarily as a result of Kesha veers between playful and critical moods with informal aplomb.
On the scuzzy garage-punk stomp “Boogie Ft,” she employs robotic rapping and disco-diva soars, and matches visitors Eagles Of Dying Steel note-for-exaggerated-Elvis-sneer-note. “Let ’Em Discuss” is a fizzy, new wave aerobics exercise that might simply double as an upbeat Broadway show-stopper, whereas the sassy “Boots” is an electro-twang hybrid with quivering strings, icy home music beats, and drawling come-ons.
In distinction, the sparser “Discovering You” finds Kesha channeling Florence Welch’s pure, highly effective trills, whereas the whimsical, acoustic-leaning waltz “Godzilla” is a fantastical daydream about falling in love with the film monster. The underlying message is that magnificence is within the eye of the beholder, one thing Kesha conveys with an impish, nearly shy, supply.
Rainbow’s outdoors collaborators additional complement her various inspirations. The orchestral title monitor—a wondrous music about reclaiming your core essence and studying how you can belief your self once more—has the unmistakable imprint of Ben Folds, who contributes plaintive piano and buoyant string preparations. (The music brims with a lot chance, it’s redolent of when tv moved from black and white to paint.) The soulful, funky strut of “Lady” options crisp accents from the Dap-Kings horns and an enthralling interlude the place Kesha dissolves into giggles—a uncommon and welcome flaw on a mainstream pop file.
After which there’s the show-stopping cowl of “Previous Flames (Can’t Maintain A Candle to You),” a duet with Dolly Parton—one other girl who is aware of a little bit one thing about battling sexism. The collaboration has particular which means: Not solely did Parton take the music to No. 1 on the nation charts in 1980, however the tune was co-written by Kesha’s mother, Pebe Sebert. Unsurprisingly, this model is especially ferocious. The ladies sound sturdy and unwavering as they categorical gratitude for the items of their present romantic companion, and the music ends with each of them buying and selling off cleaning, wordless hollers.
Considerably incongruously, Rainbow is much less profitable on its extra easy pop moments. Regardless of its earnest message about embracing imperfections and residing life to the fullest, the breezy, electro-tinted pop of “Hymn” feels indistinguishably nondescript. “Study To Let Go” is marginally higher, boasting an unabashedly catchy refrain and Zen-like themes, however its reggae-pop method is dated and equally generic. After which there’s the Johnny Money-esque cowboy lope “Hunt You Down,” a barely hokey menace to a boyfriend who’d higher not indulge his wandering eye. This triptych sounds nearly calculated, as if Kesha is inhabiting a persona moderately than residing her reality—which runs counter to Rainbow’s free-flowing, genuine spirit.
Actually, Rainbow is at its greatest when Kesha implicitly acknowledges her present scenario and cranks up the empowerment. The torchy, intimate opener “Bastards” is a de facto mission assertion, with Kesha sounding reside and unfiltered as she croons useful affirmations: “Don’t let the bastards get you down / Oh, no / Don’t let the assholes put on you out / Don’t let the imply ladies take the crown.” Because the music progresses, Kesha’s voice will get stronger and extra defiant. “However they gained’t break my spirit,” she proclaims, drawing out the final phrase for dramatic emphasis. “I gained’t allow them to win.”
“Let ’Em Discuss,” in the meantime, underscores its devil-may-care vibe by way of a low-key bridge the place she sweetly sings, “I’ve determined all of the haters in every single place can suck my dick.” Such self-awareness works even higher on Rainbow’s deeper moments. Throughout “Boots,” Kesha talks about being cautious of marriage till she met somebody who modified her thoughts, whereas “Spaceship” is about feeling like an alienated misfit on Earth, and realizing she’ll match in additional among the many cosmos. In an much more putting second, on the roaring anthem “Lady,” she alternates the road, “I run my shit, child,” with the moderately pointed lyric, “I write this shit, child.”
The brilliance of Rainbow is that it displays Kesha’s present ordeal, nevertheless it does it by lyrics and themes which are broad sufficient to keep away from being tied solely to this second in time—or simply to her. Relatively, it’s a daring, centered, common assertion about freedom—from self-hatred, from paralyzing inner conflicts, from gender expectations, from adverse influences, and (particularly) from different folks’s shit. Her authorized points might proceed, however lengthy after the storm clears, Rainbow guarantees that Kesha can have the final phrase.