Four years after Funhouse she’s back: breaking down barriers, shifting paradigms, getting cusswords onto the adult contemporary charts like she’s Cee-Lo or something, putting empty ketchup bottles back in the fridge, and basically leering at anyone who finds her leering annoying. Because make no mistake — P!nk is incredibly annoying. Not only do you have to grope for the exclamation point whenever you type her name (which, OK, I’m a Ke$ha fan so that comes with practice), you have to listen to her lyrics, the most abrasive radio lyrics outside that Owl City kid singing about his candy-coated flying alligators.
Not that Alecia Moore’s lyrics are necessarily bad. She’s saved some great lines for album number six, The Truth About Love. In “How Come You’re Not Here”, a swingin’ rock thing about a wayward lover, she promises to “wait right here ‘til you get bored and she gets carded for beer,” har! Unfortunately, attached to that line is a chorus that finds our gal looking for her guy in the closet (because you’d have to be gay not to love P!nk) and underneath the bed (why yes, I imagine she does scare her cats), and then wittily sing/yelling “Did you go for a long walk off a short pier?” Maybe she’s screwing a vaudevillian. All this occurs over huge overdriven blasts of ROCK, because everyone knows ROCK EQUALS REBELLION AND IT’S LOUD!!! Also there’s a jaunty little whistled hook, a sonic wink in her P!nkeye. P!nk is very aggressive about not taking things too seriously.
Although her persona is hamfisted and less funny than she thinks it is, it is a persona unlike anything else on the radio. Ke$ha’s funnier and a little more debauched, but since I love how she annoys fans of proper music, I can dig that Ms. Moore annoys me. Bravo, Madam! P!nk sings better than Ke$ha, too — dig the high belting in “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”, her big annoyingly-titled single. (Is there such a thing as a half entendre?) She could be young Jon Bon Jovi up there, although he’d probably never sample Modest Mouse. And because profanity, like rock, equals rebellion against the squares, P!nk’s eloquent conjugal refrain of “I’ve had a shit day / You’ve had a shit day / We’ve had a shit day” is sure to make “Blow Me” karaoke jam of the year for working stiffs.
So… you wanna know how the album is. For major label singer-songwriter stuff, not bad. Moore knows her way around hooks. Album opener “Are We All We Are” is a protest song that could be sung by either young Occupiers or young stockbrokers, so generic is the object of its protest. (“When did everything become such a helluva mess?” I dunno — the Magna Carta?) It’s sonically amazing, though, with bombastic drums into a weird group chanted swirly synth thing, like something off an MIA record. “Here Comes the Weekend” is a top-notch dance tune with contrapuntal P!nks and an older but still fun Eminem, “Diddy mixed with a medieval knight.” And two midtempo ballads are stunning. “Try” is an ode to romantic persistence over crisp “Hysteria” guitars, and “Just Give Me a Reason”, sung with Nate Reuss from fun., should be karaoke jam of the year for couples who can sing in the same octave.
P!nk’s less successful when she tries to break barriers and shift paradigms. The two rockingest songs, “Slut Like You” and “Walk of Shame”, are sexually frank, sure, but they’re also stiff, as though P!nk pulled a creative muscle trying to piggyback onto some cultural memes. She’s got not one but two songs daring to reveal the truth about love; they are daringly titled “The Truth About Love” and “True Love”. “No one has the answer, so I guess it’s up to me,” she proclaims in “Truth”, a cutesy blues that wallows in the everyday humdrums of romance: “It’s the regret in the morning / It’s the smelling of armpits.” “True”, a duet with Lily Allen, cutesily examines why we hate those we love. Brave, honest stuff — that’s already been covered in millions of other songs. I mean, I turned on Wagner’s opera Siegfried the other night and there was Wotan, treating harshly the race that he most loved and bitching about the whole situation. And P!nk ain’t Wagner! On the boring drumless closer “The Great Escape”, she’s not even Josh Groban. I’ll give her this, though — with the plaintive afterlife ballad “Beam Me Up”, she manages to surpass the poignance of the early William Shatner albums.