The Truth About Love
To hear P!nk talk, you'd think the 33-year-old singer had forever shelved the angst, drama and rebellion she's built her career upon. "I'm in the best place I've ever been in my life," she told Rolling Stone in August 2012, "and I'd say it's 80% happiness and 20% sheer confusion and fear."
The reasons for that happiness? P!nk and her husband, motocross star Carey Hart, seem content together after a separation and talk of divorce in 2008 led to marriage counseling and reconciliation in 2010. Since then, the couple has welcomed the birth of a daughter, Willow Sage Hart, and P!nk could hardly be giddier.
"I used to be really dark. Now, I wake up and check [Willow's] pulse and make sure she's not having a temperature. And then we dance," P!nk told the AP. "Then, we go on bike rides. And we dance some more. Everything's a song. It's just a lot more fun." In an interview with Parade magazine, she added, "This time I'm married and a new mom and only a tad angry."
But to hear P!nk talk and to hear P!nk sing are two entirely different things.
On "Try," P!nk recognizes her habit of falling for men who aren't good for her. The song says pain in a broken relationship shouldn't discourage us from trying to find a love that is better. "Just Give Me a Reason" inhabits nearby territory as she begs for something to give her hope in a difficult relationship ("Just give me a reason/Just a little bit's enough/Just a second, we're not broken, just bent/And we can learn to love again/I never stopped").
"How Come You're Not Here" expresses P!nk's disorientation when she thinks her man is cheating on her (which allegedly happened during her separation from Hart): "Where have you been?/Where have you gone?/ … Quick, come back/or I might just die/How come you're not here?" In response, "Where Did the Beat Go?" implies that P!nk then had an affair of her own: "What he should be asking/Is where did our love go?/Then I wouldn't be basking/In another man's afterglow." Hart's infidelities don't justify P!nk's adulterous, self-destructive retaliation, of course. But the song does illustrate how one partner's infidelity wounds the other.
On "The Great Escape," P!nk says she's going to stop running from relationships when they get difficult ("I wrote the book on runnin'/But that chapter of my life will soon be done"). She also says she's not going to retreat to drugs to deal with her emotional pain.
"Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" layers on too much venom and too many s-words for us to give too much credit to its passing recognition that selfish actions have negative consequences.
Similarly, P!nk's reflections about the agony of infidelity ring hollow after hearing her female "empowerment" anthem about women's rights to have casual sex. "Slut Like You" begins with this shameless, profane shout-out to the casual hook-up: "I'm not a slut, I just love love/ … OK, I'll f‑‑‑ you/A little taste test/You'll be my little friend." And she's quick to note that it's 100% about sex, 0% about relationship: "They think we fall in love/But that's not it/Just want to get some/Ain't that some s‑‑‑?" We hear these vulturous thoughts: "Sitting with my friends/And we're picking who we might let in/Them boys are starving." Then, in classic P!nk style, she reminds her conquest exactly who's in charge: "Listen, you little f‑‑‑er/You think you call the shots/I just bought you some/Drink up, your ride's gone/This might be fun." Later she jokes about not being able to remember his name.
No surprise, then, that P!nk's conception of "The Truth About Love" is a disjointed mess. Tellingly, she sees love as an essentially unsolvable riddle to decipher on her own. When she tries, this is what she comes up with: "The truth about love is that it's all a lie/I thought you were the one, and I hate goodbye." She adds, "The truth about love is it's nasty and salty/It's regret in the morning, it's the smelling of armpits." Even when P!nk admits that love can be a good thing, she insists it's still liable to inflict damage along the way: "It's rage and it's hate/And a sick twist of fate/ … It can turn you into a son of a b‑‑ch, man."
"Walk of Shame" details a girl's efforts to get back to an apartment after an epic bender. "Here Comes the Weekend" looks forward to nonstop drinking. The album's cover—which bears a "Parental Advisory" sticker for explicit content—reveals enough skin that we've had to crop it for this review.
I'm sincerely happy P!nk says she's finding so much satisfaction in marriage and motherhood. Because her journey to that destination, if this album is at all autobiographical, has been a tortured one.
Indeed, P!nk and Carey Hart deserve credit for staying married during what can only be seen as a difficult journey—through infidelity and spite—for them. This line from "True Love" succinctly (and, once again, profanely) sums up their feelings: "You're an a‑‑hole, but I love you." True love indeed, as only P!nk can feel it.
That's about as "good" as things get here. Because when P!nk lets her wild party girl out of the cage—the one who demands the right to get smashed and sleep around—well, positive adjectives just don't seem to flow very readily in this review. "It's very easy for me to tap into 'Go f‑‑‑ yourself,'" P!nk admitted to Rolling Stone. "Maybe that's the only way I feel powerful."
And that's when she's only a "tad" angry.