After several hitless years in the wake of “Get the Party Started,” r&b songstress turned pop-rock badass Pink proved the title of her 2006 album I’m Not Dead surprisingly correct; unfortunately, as songs like “U + Ur Hand” and “Who Knew” scorched the airwaves anew, the home fires of her two-year marriage to motocross racer Carey Hart dwindled down to ashes, and they separated in February. Given that she remains a pit bull of a singer (lipstick very much optional) who’s poured several lifetimes’ worth of catharsis into confessional hits like “Family Portrait” and “Just Like a Pill,” Ms. Alecia Moore turns tragedy into a huge artistic coup once again on the only somewhat inaccurately named Funhouse.
Though she sang “I don’t need no ‘G’ to take care of me” eight years ago, the hardships of neither being exactly together nor completely apart have taken their toll on an album Pink had initially threatened to entitle Heartbreak Is a Motherfucker. The strings-soaked “I Don’t Believe You” and Sara Bareilles–special piano moper “Glitter in the Air” are fairly conventional—downer lyrics, slow tempos, prevailing adult-contemporary radio vibe—but most of Funhouse keeps you guessing as to what might pounce out around the next turn. It’s a divorce record, after all, so allow her this volatility, echoing everyone from Gwen Stefani (“Bad Influence”) to Duffy (“One Foot Wrong”). Bluesy lament “Mean” even lets out Pink’s inner Janis for a spell: “We opened up the wine and we just let it breathe/But we should’ve drank it down while it was still sweet.” You already know this, of course, but white-hot lead single “So What” is the newest entry in the Fantastic Empowerment Anthems genre (sub-filed under Hits Engineered by Max Martin), joining “Since U Been Gone” and “I Kissed a Girl.” And with the emotion-muddying vocoder reigning on the charts at the moment, it’s refreshing that Pink’s relatively unadorned voice, with its ache and imperfections, can be left somewhat intact (aside from a little Akon-ization on the rocker “It’s All Your Fault”). Thankfully, she shows more than she tells, and fights back even more often than that.
Pink plays Highline Ballroom October 29