Tue, Oct 02, 2012 - Page 12 News List

CD reviews

The Truth About Love, by Pink; 3 Pears, by Dwight Yoakam; Charmer, by Aimee Mann

Staff reporter

The Truth About Love, by Pink.


Big, blatant, halogen-bright pop songs are Pink’s chosen calling. No matter how her tracks begin — with a whisper or a blast — the choruses await arena shout-alongs. But the words she puts in those neat pop packages can be unruly and conflicted.

Pink (Alecia Moore) is committed to pop impact, not to any particular style. Her sixth studio album, The Truth About Love, is as usual an assortment of potential singles. She worked with prolific producers who have also written for Britney Spears (Max Martin), Kelly Clarkson (Greg Kurstin) and Avril Lavigne (Butch Walker), as well as her own longtime collaborator Billy Mann and, for one song, an Eminem collaborator, DJ Khalil, along with Eminem himself. The songs put dance beats, rock guitars, piano hymns, string orchestras and hip-hop loops at the disposal of her voice, all leading to those leather-lunged payoffs.

Pink can play standard pop roles with flair: party girl in Here Comes the Weekend, motivational speaker in Try, angry girlfriend in Blow Me (One Last Kiss). But more often, she finds ambivalence and contrast. Pink, now 33, is married and a mother, and she recognizes some non-storybook sides of romance. The tootling, handclapping girl-group pop of the album’s title song insists that the “truth about love is it’s all a lie,” with verses flipping from pretty to mundane, happy to furious. In True Love, a bouncy collaboration with Lily Rose Cooper (formerly Lily Allen), Pink tells someone, “I really hate you so much it must be true love.”

Pink still has her eye on the youthful mating game. Slut Like You isn’t a competitive put-down; in this rocker with major debts to Blur’s Song 2 (complete with a “whoo-hoo!”), Pink laughingly but insistently defends a woman’s prerogative to “get some.” The peppy new-wave tune Walk of Shame plunges into a jumble of emotions — embarrassment, regret, self-justification — on the morning after a drunken hookup.

Pink still sprinkles her songs with four-letter words that won’t be heard on radio; what may have started as bad-girl bravado is turning into a shtick. But she doesn’t pretend she’s a teenager. In How Come You’re Not Here, a 1970s-style rocker that ends up layering guitars like a Queen track, she’s alternately nervous about and furious at a partner who may be dallying with someone young enough to get “carded for beer.”

And the album’s most affecting song, Where Did the Beat Go?, is a choppy R&B march about a woman cheating because she no longer felt desired after becoming a mother: “I was your concubine and then your madonna/You couldn’t see anything beyond your baby’s mama.” It’s a grown-up predicament, and Pink makes it absolutely clear, but not simple.

— JON PARELES, NYTimes News Service

Dwight Yoakam, 3 PEARS, Warner Bros.

When he emerged in the ‘80s, Dwight Yoakam seemed more a dividend of punk and second-wave rockabilly than a fully paid-up country singer; in the country business now, at 55, he’s considered a venerable elder, with plenty of Billboard country-chart hits behind him but still operating in a parallel universe. Throughout, he’s been consistent: not the mainstream of anything, but entirely credible. He’s too good to condescend to, or discard.

3 Pears, his first album since 2007, isn’t any kind of categorical step away from his past work. It’s got hard shuffles, trebly guitars, steel guitar solos, strong chorus hooks. It still locates some measure of cool within old obsessions: the late-50s Bakersfield sound and the young Beatles. But the record draws closer to where he started: This music is entirely referential, but doesn’t want to be contained. It’s got some freelance cool, some autonomous energy.

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