P!NK Is as Personal as Ever, But Takes No Risks

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P!NK hardly needs introduction. Her breakthrough record Missundaztood cemented her as a pop star with a rebellious edge, and her catchy, guitar-inflected pop-rock was rife with tongue-in-cheek humor. Even when she aligned herself deeper within the pop canon with her later albums I’m Not Dead, Funhouse, and The Truth About Love, her songs — along with her signature scratchy vocals — always sounded like a fierce middle finger to the world.

TRUSTFALL, then, the latest release from the artist born Alecia Beth Moore, puts P!NK’s sensitive side front and center. Intensely personal, P!NK wrote much of TRUSTFALL (out Friday, February 17th) after several major events occurred in her life, namely the death of her father and her children overcoming Covid-19. TRUSTFALL is still a pop record at heart, though P!NK embraces a singer-songwriter approach in a substantial manner. There are a few piano-driven ballads on the record, and her folkier, soul-oriented songs are beefed up by some of the genre’s finest: The Lumineers, First Aid Kit, and Chris Stapleton.

P!NK has always written from a place of vulnerability. Even her biggest hits like “Just Like a Pill” and “Don’t Let Me Get Me” examined painful relationships in relation to drug abuse and a sense of self-hatred due to her involvement in the music industry, respectively. TRUSTFALL, however, is her most overt attempt at storytelling and introspection, and it yields mixed results; the album wastes no time in letting the listener be aware of its very personal nature.

Opener “When I Get There” is dedicated to her father as she imagines him in heaven, and how the thought of reuniting with him one day gives her comfort: “Is there a place you go/ To watch the sunset and oh/ Is there a song you just can’t wait to share?/ Yeah I know you’ll tell me when I get there.” It’s a sweet, and certainly touching sentiment, but like a few other select tracks on TRUSTFALL, it risks sounding overtly saccharine. The somber “Turbulence” is precisely about, you guessed it — turbulence — and the kind of anxiety and discomfort when trying to deal with difficult situations: “It’ll take a little longer to get home/ Baby, all we’ve got is time.”

The piano-centric and sombre “Long Way to Go,” featuring The Lumineers, teeters on being one of the more hackneyed tracks of the record with its overt earnestness and sincerity. The First Aid Kit-assisted “Kids in Love,” an upbeat, acoustic folk song about everyday securities and the cynicism that comes with learning from them, fares slightly better. Its warmth does not drag it down, but instead reinforces it — closing tracks “Lost Cause,” “Feel Something,” and “Our Song,” however, don’t quite manage to achieve this balance as successfully.

TRUSTFALL isn’t all piano ballads. “Never Gonna Not Dance Again” is a dance-pop number about looking ahead to golden skies after the storm, and the understanding that dark times will not be permanent. It is catchy, and quite a bop (though it matches the kind of saccharine nature of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”, as taken from the Trolls soundtrack. Determine if this is a flattering comparison or not at your own will).

“Hate Me,” on the other hand, sounds like P!NK attempting to rediscover her brattier, edgier pop-rock roots, though the lyrics lack the kind of biting cleverness of her previous material, and instead coming off as slightly kitschy: “So hate me, hate me/ I’m the villain you made me, made me… Oh no, here we go/ Welcome to the shitshow… I’m not your bitch, wanna lock me up like an evil witch.” It’s a far cry from, “And I swear you’re just like a pill/ Instead of makin’ me better/ You keep makin’ me ill.”

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