The pop gods can sometimes work in mysterious ways. When Pink arrived on the scene in 2000 with the hit “There You Go,” she became the third wheel to the Britney Spears-Christina Aguilera duopoly. “Tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears,” she even griped on her 2002 single “Don’t Let Me Get Me.” But whereas Brit and Xtina are not the ruling divas they once were, Pink has just gotten better and better. Her last effort, 2012’s The Truth About Love, was a career high, a fully realized work that also became her first No. 1 album. After five years away — during which she had her second child, son Jameson Moon, last December — Pink shows that she may just be getting this party started on her seventh LP, Beautiful Trauma.
Like its predecessor, the new album reveals more brutal truths about love from the unfiltered mind of Alecia Moore. On the chamber-tinged title tune — one of two tracks produced and cowritten by Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff — love is a drug (“The pill I keep taking, the nightmare I wake in”) that takes you down as much as it gets you high. Pink continues to ride that relationship roller coaster throughout Beautiful Trauma. On the pop-rock stomper “Whatever You Want,” she’s a ride-or-die partner committing to go down together because “‘you’re the one I wanna sink with.” Meanwhile, on the R&B-flavored “Better Life,” she wonders if her man could be dreaming of a “better wife” while he sleeps: “I’ve been up late watching you breathe/Wondering if you’re gonna leave.” And the single “What About Us” — as beautifully melancholy as a song with such a galloping chorus could be — asks “about all the broken happy ever afters” without finding any neat answers.
Proving to be just as loyal as you might expect from her, Pink reunites with trusted collaborators like Max Martin, Shellback, Greg Kurstin and Billy Mann on Beautiful Trauma. They help make the record sound both fresh and familiar, with occasional curves like the gospelized rave-up “I Am Here.” Elsewhere, Eminem follows up his guest turn on The Truth About Love’s “Here Comes the Weekend” with a cheeky cameo on “Revenge,” a rare comical moment. But Pink brings the album home with the Adele-esque “You Get My Love,” one of several ballads — two of which were cowritten by Julia Michaels — that show just how far she has left Britney and Christina behind. A-