Review Summary: Pink returns to the top of the female pop-rock throne with an album that includes multiple hits, as well as being simultaneously consistent & unpredictable.
One can never accuse Pink of not having meaningful album titles. Her debut release ‘Can’t Take Me Home’ was a message to the boys and hinted at the verging on man-bashing lyrics that the LP was to contain. ‘Missundaztood’ was a persona back-track of sorts which showed her true character, while ‘Try This’ was bordering on experimentation as she collaborated with Rancid’s Tim Armstrong on a hit & miss affair. That latter album saw a significant decline in sales and cynics were quick to dismiss Pink as washed up. The title of this 4th album is a clear message to those doubters.
In fact, not only is Pink still well and truly alive as a pop-rock performer, but she could well have released her best effort yet with ‘I’m Not Dead’. She not only seems to be totally at ease with herself here, but also with her craft. It immediately is shown on opener ‘Stupid Girls’. Initially appearing to be a sugary pop song masking an excuse for a humorous video, it reveals itself as a lyrically pointed and genuinely funny cut where Pink uses her carefree nature interestingly, to mock the Paris Hilton’s of this world and approach motivating young females from a completely different angle.
Amazingly, ‘Stupid Girls’ was the first of 7 singles released from ‘I’m Not Dead’ and that is proof positive of the quality and consistency to be found here. Furthermore, those 7 are all included within the first 9 tracks of the album, as an argument can genuinely be made that at that point, this was a genuine album of 2006 contender! Even the 2 songs not to be released as singles, ’Long Way To Happy’ and the title track, are solid crowd-pleasing pop-rock cuts.
Pink set the bar high on ‘Missundaztood’ when it came to personal songs of the highest quality (‘Family Portrait’, ‘Lonely Girl’ & ‘My Vietnam’) and while her attempts to match those past successes here are valiant, they just fall short. Radio friendly 2nd single ‘Who Knew’ is solid, but it is on the attention-getting political duet with The Indigo Girls, ‘Dear Mr. President’, where she unexpectedly shines. Written almost entirely in question format to U.S President George W Bush, Pink hits all the intended spots here and does so in a manner which results in a thoroughly superior piece.
However, it is on a three song sequence between tracks 7 and 9 where Pink really hits her straps. Beginning with the stomping beat of ‘Cuz I Can’, her cocky carefree persona is performed in such a fun and humorous manner that it somehow ends up likeable. Who could resist such a forthright statement as “I talk $hit, just deal with it”" Meanwhile, ‘U + Ur Hand’ could include the most contagious sing-along chorus of the year as a darker musical vibe accompanies the performer’s near-perfect putting down of womanizers.
The true album highlight though is 6th single ‘Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely)’. This is catchy pop-rock at its best, because this time it comes with pure lyrical genius as Pink perfectly conveys what all men of the world already know; Women can be darn moody on occasions and change their mind in a heartbeat! Any number of lines could be used as an example here, with “Cutting off the phone, leave me the f**k alone, tomorrow I’ll be begging you to come home” possibly being the best. Of course, men are also required to be mind-readers as the line “Go away, come back, I wish you knew the difference” humorously suggests.
Pink is also by no means as predictable an artist as some would have you believe. She is an ambitious and complex performer which is proven on the final 4 tracks of ‘I’m Not Dead’. Containing a mixture of orchestral (‘Conversations With My 13 Year Old Self’), acoustic (‘The One That Got Away’) and folky (the closing duet with her father) music, the best of the lot is ‘I Got Money Now’. This cut which totally belies its title is a real grower and combines well with the songs around it to add more strings to Pink’s bow while also proving her unpredictability.
It was never going to be easy for Pink to match her 2001 release ‘Missundaztood’, but she may have just done so with ‘I’m Not Dead’. Using a variety of co-producers and songwriters such as Butch Walker, Max Martin & Billy Mann, this at times contradictory performer has become so comfortable with who she is as an artist that she really has outdone herself here. Her ambition has allowed Pink to not only be successfully unpredictable, but approach songs from multiple angles to bring the best out of them. Ultimately, it results in one hell of a satisfying release that sees her return to the top of the female pop-rock throne.
Recommended Tracks: Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely), U + Ur Hand, Dear Mr. President & Stupid Girls.