By Kyle Anderson
Updated September 19, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT
Andrew MacPherson

Pink may be the best lyricist in pop music. And that’s not just because she’s willing to be as tough on herself as she is on the clueless authority figures, one-night stands, and wrongheaded husbands who inhabit her songs. Instead of playacting the expected pop archetypes — brat, vixen, victim — she presents herself as, well, herself: a knockabout girl who has done some living, not a precocious cipher playing a well-rehearsed role.

The storytelling on The Truth About Love, Pink’s sixth album and first full-length since 2008’s Funhouse, is unfalteringly vibrant, loaded with righteous anger, irreverence, and a clear eye for the darker side. Whether she’s skewering tipsy-tart tropes on the punchy ”Walk of Shame” and ”Slut Like You” or laying bare her well-documented up-and-down relationship with husband Carey Hart on ”True Love” (”At the same time I wanna hug you/I wanna wrap my hands around your neck”), her experiences never feel less than utterly real.

Of course, all that bloodletting wouldn’t resonate nearly as much without radio-gripping hooks. And Pink brings them, even as she freely lets her skate-punk plasma bleed through the pop chiffon on guitar-filled crunchfests like ”Are We All We Are” and ”How Come You’re Not Here” or initiates a club-pumping throwdown with Eminem (”Here Comes the Weekend”). Truth may switch up its stylistic forms, but Pink’s uniquely torqued confessionals permeate every song; it’s honesty you can dance to. A

Best Tracks:
A biting, raucous rave-up Slut Like You
An achingly lovely lighter-waver Beam Me Up