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Most of the time, it takes something more than the right choice of notes to make a good record. Whether it’s a nostalgic connection or an attraction to the reputation the music brings, people tend to have ulterior motives for their musical choices.
On the latest P!nk record, that extra incentive is the person behind the music. Funhouse is a record describing the aftermath of her recent divorce, recorded so soon after that the wounds are still fresh. It’s a very eclectic record, transitioning from big obnoxious rock songs to electronic club hits, and P!nk can subtly modify her voice to fit any of these styles. What holds the tracks together isn’t something clearly audible; it’s the personality that they evoke.
This personality isn’t a simple one. The first track is a rambunctious schoolyard taunt, equal parts swagger and defiance. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the next song, “Sober”, which leaves behind swagger in favor of introspection. Another facet of P!nk’s personality comes through on this cut. As she tries to rebuild her life without her husband, she says, “I don’t want to be the girl who has to fill the silence/The quiet scares me ‘cause it screams the truth.” This isn’t the same sentiment as the song before but it is certainly the same personality.
The majority of the record has this dichotomy, alternating between a carefree party girl on tracks like “Bad Influence” and someone much less boisterous in “Crystal Ball”. The song that most clearly departs from these two emotions is a country-tinged ballad called “Mean” that sounds like it could have just as easily been on a Dixie Chicks record. With the help of Butch Walker’s co-writing, P!nk dredges through the past trying to figure out what went wrong and how it happened. Its honesty is excruciating, and P!nk makes you feel just what she’s feeling in each understated verse and every big hook.
As the last piano notes fade in the closing track it becomes clear that what’s special about P!nk is her transparency. She’s incapable of hiding anything, whether she’s three quarters of the way through a bottle of Jager or halfway through an ugly divorce. Everything she’s feeling is there, all is takes is a leap of faith from the listener to hear it.