Ke$ha’s second album, “Cannibal,” revives the middle-finger-raising, boyfriend-trashing, glitter-loving frenzy of her debut. For her haters, this is a second serving of base humor and overproduced Auto-Tune. For her fans, the album is another mindless escape into the nightlife. Consider that it might be so bad that it’s good.
The eight-song mini-LP opens with the fast-paced “Cannibal.” Against thumps fit for the jungle, Ke$ha shouts “Rawr” and raps about devouring hot boys. The chorus hooks you in when she slows down to declare, “I am a cannibal” with synth-pop keyboarding in the background.
The new single off the album, “We R Who We R” is more synth beats and electro-pop. This is a cry for individuality and being “forever young.” The mantras about youthful indiscretion make for a can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head thrill. She asks you to make light of the night and join the lawlessness.
“Sleazy” continues the don’t-care, don’t-need-you theme. A fierce rhythm built by snare and bass drums energizes the song. Her voice is nasally and almost whiny, but somehow it works. As always, there’s the catchy chorus sung to offset the rapping. At points she seems to scat, “Rat tat tat tat on your dum dum dum.” Subtly inserted sexual innuendos (“…gonna make me come… um, over to your place!”) are ridiculously adequate for this generation’s laugh-out-loud moments.
The star of the release is the tune “Blow,” about an intense party. Only the place she imagines would have both “dirt and glitter cover the dance floor.” There’s a steady dance beat with a good balance of rap and singsong. A healthy dose of Auto-Tune softens the jagged edges of Ke$ha’s voice.
A gentle melody with near-poetic lyrics suddenly appears in the track list. “The Harold Song” is a welcome surprise, recounting adventures with a lost love. It’s an insight into Ke$ha’s insecurity and regrets, the closest to intellectual gratification one can ask from her work. Slow, soft drums set a marching pace to her wish for moving on. Anyone can relate to her need to not be alone in the dark. Far-away sounds of “oh” are comforting mourns, strangely. Although this song might be better fit for Kate Nash or Ingrid Michaelson, even Lady Gaga has her slow pieces.
“Crazy Beautiful Life” returns us to the forget-it-all, find-meaning-in-dancing messages of before. She sings in tune with the synthesizer, defending the night-owl life. The loud pounding makes a simple but seductive rhythm and then slows to echoing keyboard notes.
Ke$ha has something against overly sensitive boys. “Grow a Pear” is a whine-fest about…whining. It definitely isn’t a favorite from the album. She wants a guy who “acts like a chick” to “grow a vag,” and she ends up at a new level of crudeness. The lyrics aren’t that intriguing, with just enough thought for a corrupt nursery rhyme. The bass is turned up for the pulsating rhythm of this song.
The title “C U Next Tuesday” is a nod to texting culture. Another bass beat joins whimsical synth keyboarding for an even harmony throughout. She sings in a playful, childlike way, inducing a lovely drowsiness. I would call the sound “good, clean fun” like The Beach Boys if it weren’t desirous of adulterous one-night stands.
The ending track is a remix of “Animal” from Ke$ha’s release. This is best described as dream electropop, somewhere in between Owl City and Imogen Heap. The Billboard remix is appropriate for her idealistic pipe dreams mentioned. She wants to go “into the magic” and take us with her.
Don’t expect Ke$ha the philosopher. She delivers on her image: party anthems for losing yourself on the dance floor. At the very least, this is a guilty pleasure for you to sink your teeth into.