Kesha - Gag Order
May 19, 2023
Crafty, disorienting, unexpected, and begging you to come back for more.

Never been a fan of her music, but I have been one of her. I've always been down with her trying new things and always wanting to succeed; that's probably pretty universal considering her bullshit involvement with Satan himself, Dr. Luke (burn and rot, you bastard). Either way you take it and her art, I know I'm not alone with being a bit taken aback by the sounds here. Ranging from industrial beats fronting the single, "Only Love Can Save Us Now" or the soft ambient art pop of the intro track, "Something To Believe In", there's a lot to unpack here that can't go on with just one listen.

I'm writing this review as I listen through my second time, and I'm glad I did because there are some ridiculous moments and pretty standout portions that needed more than just one go to appreciate them like the chaotic dynamics of "The Drama" that honestly gave me slight new wave vibes as well as reminding me of Depeche Mode at times (and maybe, in the slightest or most obscure fashion, a bit of Jockstrap sound to it???) before transitioning into a Kurt Vile co-written outro layered over an interpolated cover of The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated". I also think "Peace & Quiet" was one that needed a bit more time to adapt to, realizing that it really reminds me of a distant cousin of a "Pang" era Caroline Polachek B-side with the sleek production and multiple vocal layers and manipulations.

I also don't think it's too farfetched to say that a couple of the beats on this thing felt extremely Yeezus-esque to me like the marching percussion on "Something To Believe In" and the grimy, 808-paired rhythms on "Only Love Can Save Us Now" reminding me a lot of the rapid hat, kick, and 808 work on "I Am A God". If you think that's a crazy claim, "I Am A God" was co-produced by Hudson Mohawke, who also produced not just one, but TWO songs on this album: "Living In My Head" and "Peace & Quiet". That Caroline connection also doesn't feel that crazy considering her and Hudson are contemporaries, working with producers on joints projects in the past like Danny L Harle.

There is a lot of genius in this project that might just have to wait until time allows it the freedom to weather and show its glory to everyone. Even then, I still find a lot of stuff in this that is mesmerizing, bewildering, and pretty refreshing for someone who has already gone through so many changes and evolutions stylistically and personally like Kesha. No matter what, I'm gonna keep coming back to this like a mine in hopes of uncovering more and more gold.


Favorite Tracks: Something To Believe In, Living In My Head, Only Love Can Save Us Now, The Drama, Ram Dass Interlude
Least Favorite: Hate Me Harder

I could count 7+ comparisons here lol
Now the real question: will she stick with something like this? Or will she go back to her party pop songs?

Both are nice, but I definitely know what I want 😆
Feels like a statement album. She can go wherever she wants from here. (I believe she's free from her contract with Dr. Luke.) She's cementing her ability in the industry here. Can't imagine her label would want this album to become popular period, let alone until the lawsuits are settled.
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