Kesha
Rainbow


3.6
great

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
August 11th, 2017 | 253 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fuck 'em - let 'em talk

A confession: it's been a long road to get here, and I say this with the air of one admitting to a dark secret, shoulders hunched and eyes downcast… I think I might be a poptimist. I don't mean to be self-deprecating – when did a phrase so prominently containing the word 'optimist' become a dirty word, anyway" – but it's the truth. I have in-depth arguments with friends about how Lorde has subverted expectations of pop music in 2017. I theorise about the notes, sounds, qualities that make a pop song perfect throughout musical history. I have spent late night hours trying to find tracklists for Blonde which flow more naturally to my $2 instant gratification-craving ears. We all have to accept our identity, in other words, and there's no use hiding that one from my Tool-jamming, sneering-at-the-Top-40 friends anymore.

I'm using humour to lower the stakes of this analysis, but in all seriousness: it's the bold, brilliant, shameless pop stars that help people accept who they are, whoever that may be. And make no mistake, Rainbow is steadfastly, stubbornly about embracing a new identity. Everything from the misleadingly psychedelic cover art to a deeply sentimental Dolly Parton appearance (on a song written by Kesha's mother, no less, if you thought the emotion was unearned) colour this album as a re-claiming of identity and independence. Even putting aside its lyrics – which are not so much from the heart as from somewhere deep in the gut, fuelled by acid and bile and vitriol - "Praying" firmly plants this album's flag as a showcase for Kesha's technical abilities, as she flaunts an incredible vocal range over a simplistic piano melody. "Bastards" is perfectly placed as an album opener, catching you off guard with a quiet country beginning which erupts into a euphoric layered chorus of "na na nas", paying tribute to the past while planting itself firmly in the present. Two guest appearances by the Eagles of Death Metal might raise some eyebrows, but the well-titled "Let 'Em Talk" immediately makes it clear that neither artist really give a fuck if you think the combo works or not. A breakneck slice of glorious power pop underpinned by Jesse Hughes' garage riffs scorches away any lingering doubts that this will be a soft, intimate album; Kesha is here with foot on the floor to outrace her demons, leaving burnt rubber and a sweetly sung "I've decided all the haters everywhere can suck my dick" kiss-off in her wake. "Woman"'s funk/electro swing/whatever combo shouldn't work, and it probably doesn't, but the conscious decision to keep the recording of her voice dissolving into fits of laughter in the second verse reinforces what really makes Rainbow a great album – the fact that it is not, and never was meant for you.

This is a Kesha freeing herself of the dollar sign in both name and motivator (sorry, that was just screaming to be used) and embracing country, funk, garage rock and whatever else she wants. Whether she's taking on Trump, Dr. Luke, or the myriad of cynical pop culture obsessives who no doubt will be on the internet within minutes registering their disgust across the world, Rainbow is for one person only, and she'll sing a ballad about Godzilla's poor social manners if she damn well feels like it. It doesn't all work, of course, and that kind of wacky humour nestled alongside self-empowerment anthems can be jarring, but it's all in service of Kesha re-discovering the fun, the joy, the rainbow. Let's get one thing damn clear, too: this is not some ephemeral poetic shimmer of sunlight on raindrops, glimpsed from your car's side mirror as you briefly remember how excited you used to get over that kinda stuff when you were young. Nah, this rainbow was born in the fucking earth, moulded from grit and hardened by perseverance, something jagged kept in a secret pocket until it started to burn then thrown up into the air, sharp edges intact, to refract its colours all around the world.



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user ratings (155)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
LaurenPaulson (4)
Refreshingly honest and cleverly retrospective, Rainbow makes indoctrination expensive again....

CompostCompote (2.5)
This one time I wanted to move, so I invited a philosopher over so he could deconstruct my house....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2017


39515 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

with extreme hesitance I direct you to pitchfork for the album stream http://pitchfork.com/news/listen-to-keshas-new-album-rainbow/

Digging: Glassjaw - Material Control

ianblxdsoe
August 11th 2017


1406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great album is great and phenomenal review is phenomenal reading this was a treat to say the least. and glad u broke up the last paragraph a bit more, reads a lot more fluid now

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2017


39515 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

oh yes thanks claire, jack, ian and my boy con for the feedback and editing! y'all the crew

clavier
August 11th 2017


472 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This was the year that Kesha made country songs and we liked it



Awesome review, of course

LaurenPaulson
August 11th 2017


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Probably it's best pop album of the year so far.

VirtualBlaze
August 11th 2017


660 Comments


This is definitely a wonderful review. It's written like there's no hint of hesitance at all. Not even slightly denying that it's a good album. But Lauren, Harry Styles would probably like a word with you.

Digging: Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast

Asdfp277
August 11th 2017


16134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

what would he say

Flugmorph
August 11th 2017


17562 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

rowbro taking names

Asdfp277
August 11th 2017


16134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

wasn't rowbro already an user?

Flugmorph
August 11th 2017


17562 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

kinda

Asdfp277
August 11th 2017


16134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ah it was rowlet

RaylanCrowder
August 11th 2017


64 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Probably it's best pop album of the year so far."



How does it compare to Melodrama by Lorde? I liked that one a lot more than I expected

Digging: Sufjan Stevens - The Greatest Gift

Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2017


901 Comments


Praying was one of the worst songs I've ever heard. Is this all as bad as that?

Digging: Blood Cultures - Happy Birthday

grindcorecore
August 11th 2017


617 Comments


this is fucking bops

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2017


39515 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

@xeno it's not all power ballads with incredible vocals if that's what you're asking... jam Let Em Talk and Woman at the very least

hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


946 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review. last couple sentences are so choice

AmericanFlagAsh
August 11th 2017


8656 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bastards is great

ScuroFantasma
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2017


10933 Comments


Fantastic review Row, I want to like this more than I do tbh, hopefully it's a grower.

Digging: Evilfeast - Elegies of the Stellar Wind

StrikeOfTheBeast
August 11th 2017


1313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Too bad Kesha can't sing worth a shit. Otherwise, great review.

AmericanFlagAsh
August 11th 2017


8656 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's weird that I quite like the slower country influenced songs on here



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