Review Summary: Pink goes Punk! Well not quite, but she does rock things up a lot more here. Attempting to hit too many targets on her 3rd album, there is not a bulls-eye to be seen.
One gets the feeling that the quality and success of Pink's second album 'Missundaztood' took a lot of people by surprise. Reports suggest it definitely surprised her record label, who predictably wanted to keep the dollars rolling in by having Pink release a follow-up as soon as possible. But Pink being the feisty character she is, was never going to remain stagnant and was exploring a number of different opportunities at the time. The one she eventually chose for her third album 'Try This' was to have most songs co-written & produced by Tim Armstrong. Yes, that Tim Armstrong who is the lead singer & guitarist of punk band Rancid!
Unfortunately, there is a feeling of incompleteness about many of the cuts here... Possibly due to it being released before Pink was happy with the final product. The incompleteness in question can be seen with the opening 3 tracks on the album, which also happened to be the only 3 singles released from the American version of the LP ('Feel Good Time' from the 'Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Soundtrack' was included on international versions). The frantic up-tempo guitars & drum rocker 'Trouble', the chorus-reliant electro-rocker 'God Is A DJ' and the attitude-filled mid-tempo rocker 'Last To Know' are all effective enough in their own right. In fact, an argument can be made that they are indeed the 3 best songs on the album. But they lack that outstanding pop hook to make them sufficiently memorable and enhance the replay factor of 'Try This' as a whole.
With Tim Armstrong involved in over half of these tracks, it is of no surprise that this album is much more rock influenced than Pink's prior 2 releases. And along with Armstrong playing some guitar, he brings along Rancid band-mates Matt Freeman & Brett Reed to assist, as well as Blink 182's drummer Travis Barker and veteran guitar guru Steve Stevens. Yet, this is still basically a pop album when all is said and done, so the players can only do so much. Ironically then, it is when Pink uses different instruments such as horns in the funky party cut 'Tonight's The Night', 'Walk Away' and 'Unwind' or a sitar in 'Catch Me While I'm Sleeping' where she excels.
Despite the Armstrong affiliation, Pink wisely does not cut all ties with the past as 3 songs were co-written by 'Missundaztood' collaborator Linda Perry. Unsurprisingly, all 3 cuts are very solid, but once more do not hold up to the better tracks from the previous album. The best of the 3 is the short & energetic up-tempo rocker that is track 9 'Try Too Hard'. In another ironic twist, this may compete with the opener as the punkiest song on the album, despite Armstrong not being involved in its writing. The lyrics also help out this cut as Pink attacks unoriginal copycat artists as if it is a personal issue.
'Missundaztood' was a lyrical revelation from Pink and it is no surprise that the personal nature of many of the songs included on that album helped make it what it was. Quite frankly, the lyrics here pale into insignificance in comparison, with many of the pieces being held together by thin premises. Take 'Last To Know' for example, which is basically about a new boyfriend not turning up to her gig when he said he would. There are the occasional lyrical winners such as the emotional 'Save My Life' and the super-slow acoustic ballad 'Love Song', but they come too few and far between now that the world knows what Pink is capable of.
Furthermore, from a vocal perspective, Pink almost seems to use this album as training-in-public. Her voice is clearly raspier in order to give that rock-chick effect, but it is inconsistent in hitting the mark and could actually have turned many of her pop fans away. Vocal experimentation also seems to be fully in effect here as she uses rap-like vocals in the verses of the derivative 'Humble Neighborhoods', while attempting to whisper menacingly in the off-putting duo of the hidden track 'Hooker' and the collaboration with controversial Canadian singer Peaches that is 'Oh My God'.
It should not be misunderstood that 'Try This' is an awful album, as it is not. It is simply an album which attempts to hit too many targets and only succeeds in catching the outside of them on occasions. There is not a bulls-eye to be seen. As a result, and due to the variety of styles on show here, the album does not really flow well. While even though most of the songs have something to like about them, pretty much all of them seem best in the moment and should have been something a lot more special had there been a little bit of extra tweaking. In a strange way, you would expect that Pink will learn from this and become a better artist moving forward. But in isolation, her third album 'Try This' is a significant drop in quality (and ultimately success as worldwide sales were down approximately 75%) from her previous release.
Recommended Tracks: Trouble, God Is A DJ & Tonight's The Night.