Album: Pink

Try This, Arista
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The Independent Culture

Pink's metamorphosis, in the space between her two previous albums, from just another formulaic soul diva to fully fledged rock chick has been one of the more remarkable transformations in recent pop history.

Pink's metamorphosis, in the space between her two previous albums, from just another formulaic soul diva to fully fledged rock chick has been one of the more remarkable transformations in recent pop history. "Last time," she explains, "everyone thought I was crazy. I was completely changing directions and I didn't have a lot of support until half-way through the album. This time, I could do whatever I wanted. I was gonna do death-metal opera, but it didn't really work out." She's joking, but don't rule out the possibility.

As rock chicks go, Pink is better, it must be acknowledged, than most, with a feisty, assertive attitude that steers clear, for the most part, of the blame game played by so many R&B divas. "I'm trouble, yeah, I've served my time/ You can't take me for a ride," she claims in "Trouble", developing the theme of self-reliance further in "God is a DJ": "You get what you're given/ It's all how you use it." Not that she is entirely in control all the time: the party anthem "Tonight's the Night" finds her anxious about where her high spirits may lead, albeit briefly: "I hope I don't end up in jail/ But then again, I don't really care" - an intimation of roguish lawlessness confirmed in the disco-punk-rap number "Humble Neighbourhood", in which she claims, unconvincingly, "We are bad people, and we do bad things."

Try This attempts to reconcile Pink's two sides, with the rock numbers punctuated by the occasional R&B ballad such as "Love Song" and "Catch Me While I'm Sleeping"; but they're fairly anonymous by comparison with the potent anger of songs such as "The Last to Know" and "Try Too Hard", put-downs of arrogant suitors and second-hand opinions, respectively. She arouses scant sympathy with "Unwind", a routine stress-rocker about how no one can possibly understand the pressure that she is under - isn't that what retail therapy is for? - but tweaks a little more pity with "Waiting for Love", a contemplative piece on which the acoustic guitar and subdued keyboard tones recall early Bowie. The musical envelope is pushed further by her duet with Peaches, "Oh My God", in which electric piano lets a little Doors-y mystery sniff around the edges of a sensuous, hypnotic groove, and by "Feel Good Time", built on the riff of Spirit's "Fresh Garbage".

Best of all, perhaps, is "Save My Life", a young girl's cri de coeur that movingly articulates the morning-after wretchedness of hedonist indulgence, but without a trace of complaint. Its even-handedness and emotional transparency allow the song to reveal both the strengths and the weaknesses of its protagonist, and as a result it's more life-affirming than hand-wringing: the shame, one feels, is the spur that will ultimately help her to rise above her problems. Which is surely a more positive approach than just searching for somewhere to lay the blame.

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