In the lead-up to the release of Trustfall (★★★☆☆), Pink declared that it is the most fun she’s ever had. Before she can get there, though, she needs to take a moment to pay homage to her late father with the piano ballad “When I Get There.”
Wistful and full of the particular sort of hope that the dark times can be waited out, the song is an unconventional opener — an honest, ungratuitous reckoning with the grief of losing a loved one and a window into Pink’s emotional state in creating the album.
Opening the album with that moving tribute underscores Pink’s admirable determination to take the bad times as well as the good. Despite that preoccupation, Trustfall shines brightest when she is delivering on her promise of fun.
The lead single, “Never Gonna Not Dance Again,” is a liberatory anthem that is equal parts billboard and mission statement for this phase of her career.
“Just wanna pop and lock to my records,” she admits at one point, breezily rejecting the idea that she has anything left to prove. It is a standout track, showing off the magnetic presence and sheer force of personality that have always driven her success. It also serves as a reminder that her strength lies more in her ability to deliver a memorable hit than to deliver a cohesive album.
To an extent, Pink shakes that off on Trustfall, coming across focused and purposeful as she matches the energy of its lead single in moments like the joyfully pre-apocalyptic “Last Call.” Disco elements crop up again in “Runaway,” a fiery synthpop track that celebrates shaking off the things that don’t serve you and starting over.
But the biggest and most welcome surprise might just be the shameless pop-punk throwback “Hate Me.” Over snarling electric guitars and with lyrics that are just cheesy enough to work perfectly, Pink flexes her impressive vocals in the service of a defiant rebuke to haters everywhere.
Trustfall largely hinges on Pink’s personality, and some of the more obvious stumbling blocks appear when she yields or shares the spotlight. Her Lumineers feature, “Long Way To Go,” falls into the trap that high-profile features often do, feeling from its first bars like a Lumineers song more than a Pink song. It’s good news for anyone who likes the Lumineers, but the distinctive mood and tone they bring to the track cause it to feel out of place with the rest of Pink’s vision.
The sleepy “Just Say I’m Sorry” suffers from a similar problem. Her duet with Chris Stapleton is sparse and plaintive and their emotive vocals mesh surprisingly well together, but the song feels like it was written more for Stapleton than Pink. Aside from their modestly strong chemistry, it ends up being somewhat forgettable, especially as a closer.
She fares better alongside First Aid Kit on “Kids in Love.” The plucky folk-pop ballad is far from one of the best tracks, but it is a solid, slightly melancholy toe-tapper that turns out to be a good fit for Pink’s vocals. The lift from First Aid Kit also helps it succeed where other moody, plaintive numbers like “Turbulence” and “Feel Something” lag behind.
With the amount of pathos she packs into her voice, Pink very rarely comes across as dispassionate, but by delivering these songs in mostly the same register following the same vague themes, they bleed together and it becomes difficult to pick one out from another. While she eventually pulls it off with “Our Song,” the album tends to be at its weakest in its low moments.
Trustfall is billed as a celebration of leaping into the unknown, but is at its best when playing to the strengths that she has leveraged into her incredible staying power as an artist.
Pink has remained such a fixture in pop for good reason, after all, and this record shows off the spark and personality that have helped her star to shine. Uneven as it may be at times, the best tracks are memorable additions to her personal canon.
Trustfall is available to stream and purchase in both physical and digital formats starting Friday, Feb. 17. Visit www.pinkspage.com.
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