Wow, this really took me a while to write up, didn’t it? Well not that you’d know how long this has been sitting on my iPod, but it’s a while. Part of the problem is that I struggled to connect with this one. I really like Pink, and she has a great back catalogue, but I’ll have to settle for the fact that I don’t think I’ll ever get a “wow” album out of her.
She doesn’t need me anyway, she’s come from unspectacular beginnings to one of the world’s most popular performers, effortlessly racking up hits and selling out arenas that many of her contemporaries stopped being able to do a long while ago. In short, I always have time for Pink. This album campaign got off to a great start commerically, and was supported by two fantastic lead singles. But you can’t measure an album just in singles…
07 Are we all we are – What does that mean?? Anyway I’m immediately confronted with my main problem with Pink albums: I’m more into pop-rock than rock-pop. A subtle difference you might think, but I guess I mean sanitised rock isn’t my thing, but dirtied-up pop is. This is a purposeful-sounding intro to the album, but it just doesn’t do anything for me musically. Still, sounds like she’s getting things off her chest, which can let us get on with the fun a bit later.
10 Blow me (one last kiss) – Now THIS is a single. She’s been tempted to launch albums with funny tracks (“So what”, “Stupid Girls”), but she’s plumped for something a little more mature, but still importantly preserving that spark that sets her apart from your typical inoffensively American artists. Sure, the radio stations will butcher and censor it, but there’s nothing offensive about it, it shows that emotional depth doesn’t get in the way of a great modern pop song. I think maybe it’s so unusual because the emotions we’re used to in music are love, hate, shame etc, not this sort of irritated exasperation at how crap a relationship is, without sounding too upset about it. Those unexpectedly high notes are still ridiculous and brilliant, as is the “I’ve had a shit day, you’ve had a shit day” refrain.
09 Try – A great single too, but one that I’ve burnt out. I think the video really was a huge selling point. Dazzling colours, jaw-dropping choreography mixed with domestic violence. That chorus is pretty instant and brilliant too … or the first half of it is. I think I got tired of the seemingly endless “Try try try” repetition, particularly in the later choruses. Repetition is surely the bedrock that many pop songs are built on, but I think it just goes too far. Still, I defy anyone to give her credit for performing the video live at the American Music Awards without miming. Sure the vocals were rough around the edges, but it shows how fearless a performer she has become.
07 Just give me a reason – Imagine my confusion when I didn’t know this was a duet to start with. What’s happened to her vocals? No, it’s that big-mouthed guy from typographically annoying band of the moment, fun.. His voice is a bit annoying in the deadpan drama way the big emo rock bands of the last 5 years like to sing. Still, the song isn’t bad. Pink’s got a nice rough quality to her voice, but a duet is sometimes a nice counterpoint to what can sometimes be a bit one-note. I think it’s the third single so I’d better get used to it, but it’s really not as bad as I’m making out.
08 True Love – Lily Rose Cooper? WE KNOW IT’S YOU, Lily Allen. No idea what she’s doing here though, I thought she’d retired about three times? Pink’s going down the old opposites attract route, you always hate the one you love (is that how it goes?). So the lyrics are a bit naff, but it feels genuine at least. It’s got a good hook to it, so all’s well. Lily doesn’t get a lot to do, have to wonder how this ‘duet’ even came about really.
07 How come you’re not here – Back to the rock sound, sounds a bit dated if I’m honest. But that chorus is quite fun, with the not-so-serious jilted girlfriend bitterly singing noisily about how she doesn’t really care that her guy’s run off with a younger model (but she probably does). Not exactly reinventing the wheel, but I wasn’t expecting that.
05 Slut like you – First real dud of the album is a little fuelled by the fact that it’s the only fruit from her collaboration with Max Martin (famous for pretty much every big pop song in the last 10 years and beyond). We get a wafer-thin pop-rock ditty (yes I know I said I preferred that) about being a massive empowered slut. Yawn… that talky bit towards the end is totally cringey. No thanks.
08 The truth about love – With that over with, we get the title track, a laid-back guitar-led track trying to explain the truth. I can’t say she comes to a satisfying conclusion on the truth, particularly given that another breakup is the backdrop to this song. It’s got a nice retro feel to it, like B-52s or something (yes I can say that’s retro, it’s been like 20 years, and even they did a lot of 50s-sounding stuff right?). It’s a fun track, with some colourful lyrics and nice hooks, particularly in the last minute.
07 Beam me up – She had a baby, I didn’t realise, last year apparently (Willow Sage, sounds like a scented candle). But clearly she hasn’t gone down the whole ‘new mother’ album route that many artists do. I suspected this might be a baby song, but reading the lyrics I’m not sure now. Not that I have an idea what it’s really about either. Whatever. It’s a nice acousticy ballad with a bit of string accompaniment later on. Very nice, a bit fillery but it’s cool.
08 Walk of shame – Is the post-“Slut like you” song? It’s a bit more endearing and poptastic though, a track about the post-coital trip home. A Ke$ha-brand drunken sex amnesia theme, with a crap-ton of guitars and synths and everything else thrown in. Pretty catchy really, I like it.
05 Here comes the weekend – What’s with the Eminem duets these days? I could really do without that. Didn’t he retire too? Another rocky drunken ‘anthem’, which I’m getting a little bored of. Singing about getting drunk and hooray for the weekend, it’s been done to death and this noisy shout-vocalled track doesn’t exactly reinvigorate the sound. Eminem is as vile as ever, not an obvious match for a duet either, maybe this sounded better on paper.
06 Where did the beat go? – A stumbling rocky rhythm ticks its way through this one. A strange tone to it too, sounds like something Aguilera could have come out with about 7 or 8 years ago, quite theatrical-sounding. To be honest, the rough quality to Pink’s voice that I liked at the start of the album is starting to grate a little bit now. It’s alright, but that yodel-shout riff in the background is quite annoying and I’m not left wanting to hear the track again.
07 The great escape – After all that shouting, let’s have some honey & lemon and finish off with a nice ballad. Straight-up Pink ballads are a hit and miss affair usually, but this is quite tuneful. A co-write with the guy from Semisonic (dated reference if ever I heard one), and nice enough but not really going to stand up against her big ballady tracks like “Nobody knows” or “Who Knew”. Not that I think this was supposed to be single material. Going out with a whimper rather than a bang, but maybe that’s a nice change in this rather rackety album.
Well it started off well, and the album’s not without its fun charms or great tracks in places. But I think musically I’m just not on the same page as Pink. That’s fine, it’s not like she owes it to me to make a pop album, that’s clearly not the sort of music she’s into, or the influences she’s had. My search for a great Pink album continues, but I’ll always listen out for the singles.
Keepers for the iPod: Blow me (one last kiss), Try, True love, The truth about love, Walk of shame