Album Audit is a weekly Interns feature, recapping and reviewing the album releases of the week with a cheeky score out of five.
Kesha – Rainbow
Album Of The Week
In the wake of what Kesha‘s been through it would’ve been very easy for Kesha to play the victim on Rainbow. She would’ve been well within her rights to and it probably would’ve been extremely powerful. It also, however, would’ve made Dr. Luke a central figure of this album, so instead Kesha has made Rainbow a record that looks to the future and empowers.
“They won’t break my spirit, I won’t let them win,” Kesha sings on opener Bastards, an empowering, country-tinged track that shows us Kesha is not about to back down. From there, Rainbow continuously sticks a middle finger to anyone in her way. Let ‘Em Talk is a no-fucks-given anthem that replaces beats with rock ‘n’ roll and Woman is a thundering declaration of womanhood backed by the powerful Dap-King Horns.
She many not be singing about swigging Jack anymore but it doesn’t mean Rainbow isn’t wildly fun at times. The tongue-in-cheek wickedness of Hunt You Down (“If you fuck around, boy I’ll hunt you down”) is an album highlight and Godzilla, penned by her Mum, contains a wild beast in a gentle, guitar-led ditty that’s got an endlessly entertaining quirk to it.
Unlike her previous records, this one has Kesha’s handprints over every inch of it. It feels like her thoughts made it from her head to the album without filtering and that’s the most fulfilling thing about it. Kesha has a naturally optimistic mind and a wicked sense of humour. That’s best delivered with this country aesthetic that ties the record together. Interestingly the albums weakest moments, Hymn and Finding You, suffer because they move closer to a modern pop sound and lose that unrestrained personality that something as boisterous as, say, Boogie Feet possesses.
That said, the album’s three most powerful moments come by way of ballads. Praying is still as affecting as it was the first time we listened and in the context of the record it takes on an even more positive message of forgiveness. Similarly, the title track, written while in rehab for an eating disorder, finds an impossibly bright silver lining that’s carried on a bed of sweeping strings. Closer Spaceship sees Kesha conclude the album with, “I feel free,” and while that may not be totally true when talking about her record deal, her mindset is everything on Rainbow and she’s come a long way mentally. She’s releasing music again and, even better, it’s the sort of music she’s always wanted to make.
Without even considering the context of Rainbow, it’s an incredible record. It’s even more unbelievable when you consider the walls she had to tear down to make it happen. 4
Bebe Rexha – All Your Fault: Pt. 2
Let’s be honest: if Bebe Rexha disappeared from music today, you’d hardly notice. She hasn’t really had her moment yet despite multiple attempts at a big single but the second part of All Your Fault suggests that she may not be far off.
While the first part of All Your Fault delivered forgettable mid-tempos, the follow-up spans more genres and delivers far more interesting moments. Opener That’s It featuring Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz shows that she naturally slots into the hip-hop aesthetic, far more than dance/club sounds and I Got Time proves that again with a little more melody.
(Not) The One aims for a big moment and succeeds with something that knows how big to go and when to tow the line. By comparison, The Way I Are (Dance With Somebody) does not know when to tow the line and goes for a tacky Whitney salute that’s topped off by a totally unnecessary Lil Wayne feature.
At the tail end of the EP, she takes two risks stylistically, trying out dancehall on Comfortable and country on Meant To Be with Florida Georgia Line. Somewhat unbelievably she makes both work. Comfortable is an effortless EP highlight that showcases her voice in the best light and Meant To Be could do for country and R&B what Nelly and Tim McGraw’s Over and Over did for country and hip-hop.
Rexha is still finding her space and while All Your Fault: Pt. 2‘s smorgasbord of styles doesn’t really help that, it makes a strong argument that she could exist and succeed in a number of them. 3
Billie Eilish – Don’t Smile At Me
It’s impossible to believe that Billie Eilish is just 15. She’s not the first 15 year-old to make music but she’s surely one of the first to make something that’s this forward-thinking, mature and intriguing.
Don’t Smile At Me was crafted entirely with her brother Finneas O’Connell and establishes Eilish as an alternative popstar who is part sweet, part dangerous and part hypnotising. Throughout she plays this armed protagonist straight out of a Tarantino movie converting her attitude into someone who could kill and while it’s twisted, it’s totally alluring. COPYCAT sees her singing, “You got your finger on the trigger, but your trigger finger’s mine,” over a dark, creepy beat while Bellyache is a pop song about Murder with one of the most intriguing verses of the year.
Eilish has a wicked tongue, the type that you wouldn’t want to cross in a dark alley and cuts people down to size constantly on the EP. On My Boy, she makes sure her “boy” knows that he’s not a man yet singing, “He ain’t a man and sure as hell ain’t honest.”
She’s also got a more honest, emotional side that shines through at multiple times. Watch depicts fake love with this vivid imagery of a burning heart while Party Favour has her turn a call to a lover into a song in the rawest moment on the record.
This is a phenomenal debut EP regardless of her age. Her age is only exciting because the room for growth is so large. 3.5
Avicii – AVĪCI (01)
You would’ve thought that now he’s retired from touring Avicii would have a little more time to think up something more creative than the country/EDM crossover that he started working with Wake Me Up but nope. His first release of the year offers more of the same, just with different guests this time around.
Starting with acoustic guitars on Friend Of Mine that sound like that start of a perky, teen comedy Avicii launches into a big chorus and a predictable drop. The soulful You Be Love takes an unexpectedly emotional verse and crosses it with a chorus that has less personality than Siri while Without You aims for euphoria and lands somewhere in 2014 on a sticky, club room floor.
The two redeemable songs on the record come courtesy of two great vocalists Rita Ora and Aluna of AlunaGeorge. Lonely Together is the EP’s biggest pop moment and while he produces Ora’s voice within an inch of its life, she still manages to add tinges of personality. What Would I Change It To unexpectedly gets Aluna over an acoustic guitar that leads to a killer bridge that descends into Kygo territory and ultimately doesn’t maintain attention for three minutes.
Avicii may have latched onto radio gold in 2013 with the country/EDM crossover but he’s latching onto it like he’s created a genre capable of saving music. In 2017, when plenty of popstars are pushing the envelope this just feels lazy. The whole things sounds as if he’s remixed old songs for a quick dollar. 2