sat 06/06/2020

CD: P!nk - Hurts 2B Human | reviews, news & interviews

CD: P!nk - Hurts 2B Human

CD: P!nk - Hurts 2B Human

Idiosyncratic pop star plays with genres on eighth album

Hurts 2B Human celebrates P!nk's uniqueness

Look behind the lyrics of some of P!nk’s biggest hits, and you’ll see that those powerhouse vocals and big pop-rock choruses have always been used to distract from a certain vulnerability. But even by that standard, eighth album Hurts 2B Human might be her most plainspoken yet, with frank songs that tackle therapy, anxiety and motherhood nestled amongst the pop juggernauts you’d expect from an album that counts Max Martin, Shellback and Greg Kurstin amongst its cast of contributors.

“Hustle” - co-written with Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons and producer Jorgen Odegard - gets the party started, as it were; pairing a typically strident chorus with a soft-shoe-shuffle beat to deliver the sort of lyrical smackdown that wouldn’t feel out of place in musical theatre. It’s the first of many interesting stylistic choices on an album which, thanks to guest turns from the likes of Khalid, Cash Cash and Chris Stapleton, takes in a variety of genres from dance to country-adjacent - and while some experiments are more memorable than others, none of them sound particularly out of place.

First single “Walk Me Home” is an early highlight: the sort of soft-rock stadium-friendly filler that shouldn’t be all that memorable, but with a hooky chorus that in the hands - and lungs - of an artist as idiosyncratic as P!nk buries itself deep in the brain. “Can We Pretend”, featuring EDM trio Cash Cash, is an irresistible dance-pop confection which finds P!nk wishing herself back to age 22, “dancing up on tables and taking pictures we had nowhere to post”; while, at the other end of the spectrum, “My Attic” is a stripped-back ballad about putting up a tough front to protect your innermost secrets.

While very different, what these songs have in common is that they celebrate P!nk’s uniqueness: that one-of-a-kind voice, the uncompromising attitude. It’s what gives her the freedom to throw herself into “Love Me Anyway”, her surprisingly effective country duet with Stapleton, and enables her to rescue dreary Beck co-write “We Could Have It All” with a show-shopping chorus. Skip over the bland title track duet with Khalid and pop-ballad-by-numbers “Courage” and you have a very enjoyable pop mix, coherency be damned.

Below: watch the video for P!nk's "Walk Me Home", directed by The Greatest Showman's Michael Gracey.

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