“THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE"
Pink and motocross racer husband Carey Hart pretty much defined the Facebook relationship status “It’s complicated" with their public breakups and makeups over the years. Sure, marriage troubles aren’t all that unusual, though putting one another on blast in public, in anthems like “So What," still is. So when Pink promises “The Truth About Love," people expect a lot. Luckily, her sixth studio album more than delivers.
Pink reveals her “Truth," using practically every pop music style available. The lead single “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" uses the bouncy, yet edgy dance-pop that worked so well for her on “Raise Your Glass." She reveals a lot of relationship angst when she teams up with fun.’s Nate Ruess on the gorgeous ballad-with-a-backbeat “Just Give Me a Reason." She rocks out with Eminem on the stomping, guitar-driven “Here Comes the Weekend." And she raps herself on the hard-hitting, gender-equality anthem “Slut Like You."
However, Pink may actually be at her best when she showcases her softer side. The title track is a throwback thrill, combining a churning rock riff with ‘60s girl-group harmonies and dance-party organ. The acoustic ballad “Beam Me Up" serves as a powerful reminder that she has a stunning voice that is as evocative as nearly any singer-songwriter’s.
“The Truth About Love" shows that Pink could probably knock off almost any other singer on their home turf, so to keep things interesting — for her and her fans — she chooses to compete in every genre and do it exceedingly well.
Warner Bros. Records
When he emerged in the ’80s, Dwight Yoakam seemed more a dividend of punk and second-wave rockabilly than a fully paid-up country singer; in the country business now, at 55, he’s considered a venerable elder, with plenty of Billboard country-chart hits behind him but still operating in a parallel universe. Throughout, he’s been consistent: not the mainstream of anything, but entirely credible.
“3 Pears," his first album since 2007, isn’t any kind of categorical step away from his past work. It’s got hard shuffles, trebly guitars, steel guitar solos, strong chorus hooks. It still locates some measure of cool within old obsessions: the late-’50s Bakersfield sound and the young Beatles. But the record draws closer to where he started: This music is entirely referential, but doesn’t want to be contained. It’s got some freelance cool, some autonomous energy.
The easiest way to telegraph the heart of this record is that Beck, whose music always sounds like it comes out of a slight ironic distance, helped produce two of its songs, using some of his own band members. One, “Missing Heart," is an acoustic-guitar ballad with overdriven steel guitar pushed into a cavernous background; the other, “A Heart Like Mine," is simple, bright, overdriven, like an imagined lost track from an early-period Beatles album. Both mess with country music’s usual sonic dimensions and proportions; Yoakam, with his nasal keening and word-ending yelps, sounds born to the fun house.
The sugarcoated poison pill is a reliable device for Aimee Mann, a singer-songwriter given to ravaging implication and dispassionate affect.
“Charmer," her eighth studio album, represents a sunny turn for her, at least in relative terms: It revolves around the fragile psyches and misplaced affections of others, with lyrics that lean heavily on the second-person singular and a sound that evokes some untroubled late-1970s convergence of soft rock and new wave. That it all goes down so easily seems like a sneaky way to make a point.
Mann’s driving interest here, after all, is the insecure, calculating core beneath any charismatic exterior. The album opens with its title track, a would-be anthem involving a simple guitar riff, an analog synthesizer line and a series of generalizations. “Secretly charmers feel like they’re frauds," Mann sings, steeling her warm, low-gloss voice with a suspicious certainty. How does she know?
You could ask similar questions about the album’s other songs, which target emotional dysfunction from an innocuous distance.
“THE SPIRIT INDESTRUCTIBLE"
Nelly Furtado would be more respected among tastemakers if her father were a Sri Lankan rebel, if she had been born and raised in a Brazilian favela or if she had burst out of Miami with the jumbo sound she presents on “The Spirit Indestructible." But, alas, she’s Portuguese-Canadian and seemed to sneak onto the American charts like a Trojan horse, earning an early hit with “I’m Like a Bird" before gradually morphing into one of the more innovative and adventurous pop singers in North America.
On her fifth studio album, “The Spirit Indestructible," Furtado teams with superstar producer-songwriter Rodney “Darkchild" Jerkins, Salaam Remi and Passion Pit founder Mike Angelekos to create a thick, jam-filled joyride with more emotional heft than all her peers save maybe Beyoncé. Madonna wishes she could make a record as vital and imaginative as even the lesser tracks on “Spirit."
But who cares about lesser tracks when Furtado and Jerkins, whose work feels as vital and of-the-moment as his work with Destiny’s Child, Brandy and Jennifer Lopez earlier in his career, are behind the wheel? Few save maybe longtime Furtado collaborator Timbaland. His absence, in fact, was worrisome given their musical chemistry, but Jerkins and company do him one better.
Innovation is everywhere. Ever confident of her allure both as a woman and an artist, Furtado on “The Spirit Indestructible" proves nearly untouchable.
Will the Killers be the last stadium-rock band America ever creates? We’re great at pop, we invented hip-hop and we’ve even caught up at dubstep. But Coldplay is English, Arcade Fire is Canadian, and “Battle Born" feels like a reveille for the U.S. of A’s last contender in the field of major guitar bands.
The Killers have always alternated between Europhile and Americana fetishes. Their debut, “Hot Fuss," got on the dance-punk revival a bit late but did it better than almost any peer; “Sam’s Town" wore its rolled-sleeve Springsteen-isms proudly, and 2008’s “Day & Age" turned to the art-pomp of Bowie and Roxy Music. “Battle Born" finally synthesizes all of this into one coherent vision.
Lead single “Runaways" borrows from “Born to Run"-era Bruce, but filled out with synth washes to make it even bigger (and Flowers’ well-documented family-man life gives weight to a song about raising kids despite the pull of the road). Domesticity is revisited on “Here With Me," putting the Killers in an unusual but promising position — a glammed up new wave band with the heart of a pure country songwriter.