Things have been going well for P!nk since “Funhouse.” Things improved with her husband, she had a baby girl, and she decided that she wanted P!nk, previously just a stylization, to be her official name. In the midst of all that, she also recorded her best album since “Missundaztood.”
Like all noteworthy albums, P!nk’s “The Truth About Love” has a lot to say. Like all noteworthy dance-pop albums, it leaves most of what it has to say to the music. It’s a very smart and witty lyrical album, but its most interesting ideas are all musical. Perhaps the most interesting thing “The Truth About Love” has to say: Lily Allen is back.
Allen has decided to start performing under her married name, Lily Rose Cooper, so her appearance on “True Love” might catch you off guard. Still, it’s tremendous news. It feels fitting her first recording since her hiatus is on this album, since her and P!nk have become among the most inspiring pop singers of the past decade while simultaneously using their fame in a positive way. Both even have songs about the shallowness of the pop music scene. Along with delivering the good news, “True Love” also serves as an album highlight.
Another thing that the album has to say is that there’s hope for Nate Ruess. The man isn’t one of my favorites. Neither of his bands, The Format and Fun, have really done anything that interested me. Still, his performance on “Just Give Me a Reason” works. The song is melodic and emotional in a way that none of his other work has been, and his melodramatic inflections are used to its advantage.
The final guest appearance on the album belongs to Eminem. There’s no problem with Eminem doing guest verses on other people’s songs. His best performance since his “Encore” days was on Nicki Minaj’s “Roman’s Revenge,” and “Forgot About Dre” is undeniable. Here, he appears on “Here Comes the Weekend,” the album’s blandest party song. His performance is too “Recovery” for comfort. Unlike the other guest appearances, Eminem’s seems like P!nk just reached into a hat and picked a random name. It feels unnecessary and easily substitutable which featuring credits shouldn’t be.
P!nk is at the top of her game on “The Truth About Love.” This is obvious on the first single, “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” where she offers several clever lines and one of the year’s catchiest choruses. The censored version isn’t nearly as good; it’s just not the same without the phrase “whiskey dick.” The second single, “Try,” is even more worthy of success. “Why do we fall in love so easy even when it’s not right?” P!nk gets it.
There are also several songs that deserve to be singles. The opening track, “Are We All We Are,” is a well-produced and punk-ish attention-getter that seems like it would fit in well on the top-40, while “How Come You’re Not Here,” P!nk’s best song since “So What,” is the one I’m rooting for most. “Slut Like You” will most likely not be a single for many obvious reasons, but it deserves some kind of mainstream success too.
“The Truth About Love” includes two singles, four or five songs that deserve to be, a few inoffensive pieces of filler and three songs that don’t work (along with the Eminem feature, there’s also two ballads “Beam Me Up” and “The Great Escape,”). For a 13-track album, that’s not bad at all.
But the great songs stop at track seven, making “The Truth About Love” drop off hard at the end.
An album’s second half not living up to its first is common in pop music and the second half of “The Truth About Love” is still better than most. This record shows a confident, in-your-face P!nk reserving her right to party even under the pressure of heartbreak.
Some say, as a new mother, she shouldn’t be singing songs like “Slut Like You.” But, so what? She’s still a rock star, and since she’s keeping her daughter fed and making exceptional pop songs at the same time, there’s little reason to complain. The exclamation point may be annoying, but it’s a good thing that “The Truth About Love” is the first album where P!nk began officially using it. It’s her first album in years that warrants one.
Key Tracks: “How Come You’re Not Here,” “Slut Like You,” “Try,” “Are We All We Are.”