P!nk, Beautiful Trauma | Album Review
P!nk returns with a consistent, enjoyable, seventh studio album, ‘Beautiful Trauma.’ Beautiful Trauma arrives after a five-year hiatus.
Following a five-year hiatus, P!nk returns with her seventh studio album, Beautiful Trauma. The last time we heard from her (as a solo artist) was in 2012, when she dropped The Truth About Love. Truth featured hits including “Try” and “Just Give Me the Reason,” featuring Nate Ruess. Five years is an eternity in pop music, as trends come and go quickly. Nonetheless, P!nk returns with her highly-anticipated seventh studio album, Beautiful Trauma, with a familiar sound. It’s not her best album, but has plenty of sensational moments.
After commencing as a ballad, opener “Beautiful Trauma” picks up steam, accelerating the pace, and filling out the production. P!nk impresses vocally, oscillating between smoother and coarser vocals. Also playing into the coarseness is the addition of the f-bomb. Nonetheless, her punchier, more assertive vocals are fabulous, and the vocal production amplifies the excellence. “Beautiful Trauma” is filled with sounds, shifts, and plenty of excitement.
“Revenge” is a stark contrast to “Beautiful Trauma.” Initially off-putting, after a couple of listens, its magic shines through. This is P!nk returning to her urban-pop days. “Revenge” is edgy, in spite of the electric piano accompaniment. There’s plenty of attitude, thanks to some salty language and of course, a guest feature by Eminem.
“Whatever You Want”
The pros are ample for “Whatever You Want.” There’s toughness, thanks to gritty vocals and attitude by P!nk.
“Running like a dog / Fighting like I bitch too much / And you just can’t stand it baby / Even when I fall / You don’t seem to give two shits…”
In addition to a consistent, powerful vocal, the production has more of rock-oriented pop sound, contrasting the urban-pop of “Revenge.” Some other cool happenings include a dash of parallel minor during portions of the chorus (it’s in a major key) and of course, the chorus itself.
As always, P!nk sounds top-notch on “What About Us,” the crowning achievement of Beautiful Trauma. Vocally, while she packs a punch, she also exhibits great control on this particular performance. The chorus is a major selling point:
“What about us? / What about all the times you said you had the answers? / What about us / What about all the broken happy ever afters? / What about us / What about all the plans that ended in disaster? / What about love? What about trust? / What about us?”
Interestingly, “What About Us” lacks some of the rock edge of some of her singles. Some may argue this scaling back of rock sensibilities is a con, but all in all, this sound works, giving the artists some modern pop flair.
“But We Lost It”
“But We Lost It” earns the tall task of following “What About Us.” All in all, it’s a reflective, thoughtful cut that doesn’t bother trying to reach the same commercial aspirations. This is simply P!nk singing her heart out, and she delivers. Likewise, “Barbies” is reflective, stripped of any modern production cues or gimmickry. The singer-songwriter sensibilities represent the best moments of “Barbies,” even if the song itself is good, but not great or particularly memorable.
“Where We Go” arrives just in the nick of time. From the jump, it’s groovier than “But We Lost It” or “Barbies,” restoring the energy of Beautiful Trauma. Maybe “Where We Go” doesn’t reach the heights of “What About Us,” but it benefits from being a bit more contemporary without compromising P!nk artistically. Like everything that precedes it, P!nk offers mad vocals. The same can be said about the vocals and the energy on “For Now,” a pop-rock ballad built for a powerhouse vocalist. It’s not game changing, but sound overall.
“Secrets” accelerates the tempo and amps up the fun, at least contextually. A record with plenty of ‘single’ potential, calling it a ‘blast’ would be an overstatement. It’s successful, but as the ‘dance cut’ of this pop album, it’s not a perfect fit. “Better Life” slackens the pace, opting for mid-tempo fare, and returns once more to ‘urban-pop P!nk.’ This works more effectively; more of her wheelhouse. The production work is sweet.
P!nk switches styles once again on “I Am Here.” “I Am Here” can be characterized as a folk-pop record. Additionally, gospel joins the mix on the chorus, thanks to choral vocals. The chorus is the crème de la crème – uplifting to the nth degree.
“I am here, I am here / I’ve already seen the bottom, so there’s nothing to fear / I know that I’ll be ready when the devil is near / I am here, I am here / All of this wrong, but I’m still right here / I don’t have the answers, but the question is clear.”
Following the powerful, high-flying gospel-folk-pop of “I Am Here,” P!nk brings things down on penultimate number, “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.” Ultimately, it’s authentic and well-performed. The strings are stunning. Yet another ballad, “You Get My Love” concludes Beautiful Trauma beautifully. Perhaps it’s a lot of deceleration at the tail-end of the album, but it certainly ends up satisfactory in a capable vocalist’s hands. Those high notes are well worth it.
All in all, P!nk delivers another well-rounded album with Beautiful Trauma. This particular album isn’t as polished and the ones that precede it, but it still has ample enjoyable moments. P!nk does overdo the cursing – most of it isn’t necessary. Still, the voice is as awe-inspiring and powerful as ever. After a five-year hiatus, it’s great to hear new music from one of pop’s most consistent artists again.
Gems: “Beautiful Trauma,” “Revenge,” “Whatever You Want,” “What About Us,” “Where We Go” & “I Am Here”
P!nk • Beautiful Trauma • RCA • Release: 10.13.17
Photo Credit: RCA