Since approximately the turn of the millennium, Pink has been the most emotionally honest pop singer to approach Top 40 radio on its own terms. (As opposed to Adele, who made Top 40 radio approach her on her terms.) Think about her competition: Even when she’s allegedly opening up, does anybody think that “If I Were A Boy” or “Irreplaceable” actually reveal anything about Beyoncé? But when Pink sings “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” “Sober,” or even something as raucously anthemic as “So What,” it’s hard not to walk away with the feeling that she’s giving her audience, well, her.
On The Truth About Love, Pink does the unthinkable: She starts to recede. Deliberately or otherwise, she seems to shapeshift from track to track in order to ape the sound and style of any number of her contemporaries. “Walk Of Shame” covers the same frivolous, wink-y ground as Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” in both sound and subject, while the guitar-heavy “Slut Like You” runs a Blur hook through a Lady Gaga filter. (The tipsy spoken-word bridge is all Pink, though.) “How Come You’re Not Here?” and “Just Give Me A Reason” suggest that Pink’s been listening to the Black Keys and Brandi Carlile, respectively, and a handful of other songs sound as though they were produced in a panic the day after Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger came out.
But Pink has never really had a signature sound. What she has is an attitude, a disarming candor that’s all the more bracing because it’s delivered with a middle finger. If The Truth About Love finds her more content than on Funhouse (which fed off of conflicting, confusing, and not altogether flattering feelings about the mess of her personal life), she’s still ambivalent about her contentment. While its title metaphor goes largely unexplored (also a problem with the sweet, string-laden acoustic ballad “Beam Me Up”), “Where Did The Beat Go?” is dark-tinged and tense, exploring what happens when a relationship starts to crumble but isn’t yet demolished. She also may or may not be admitting to having slept with another man.
It doesn’t matter whether that’s a real-life confession; Pink sells it as though it is. She’s even better on a pair of songs—the Lily Rose Cooper-assisted “True Love” and the title track—that blow the lid off the mess that is romance. She sings the latter with a weary, semi-cynical resignation that exploits the inevitability implicit in the mechanically glossed-up blues progression. But the secret lying just underneath the surface the entire time is that no matter how much the picture she paints of love sucks, she still chooses it wholeheartedly.