Pink - Try This
Anrgy, sure she's angry...but what about? Looking through her biography, bits and pieces about her teenage years and what's happened to her since the release of Can't Take Me Home three years ago, there appears to be little troubling her other than an occasional inconvenience. As once she compared the dinner-table arguments of her parents to the Vietnam, never let it be said that Pink fails to whip up a storm from the lightest of breezes.
Of course, that's not to say that Pink underestimates her market. Indeed, such an assumption would be far from the truth. As the Spice Girls clung to the notion of girl power, regardless of how trite the concept, so teenage girls held on tight to some hope given to them by those two words. At an age when even the most minor of events appear critical, the Spice Girls, and now Pink, spin the few years before adulthood into a girls night out, all linked arms, high-heeled strutting and scorn poured on any guy who gets in the way. Try This may well be all plastic sass and neat swearing but better this than trailer park virgins now popping their cherry before sales slide a little.
Getting back together with Linda Perry, Pink's main partner on M!ssundaztood, but also bringing in Tim Armstrong, once of punk band Rancid and who co-writes eight of the thirteen songs here, Try This is a noticeably tougher album than its predecessor but rarely gets knocked into the kind of clean-kid pop-punk of Avril Lavigne. Instead, Try This picks up on fairly straight rock as a foundation for each song but mixes R&B, punk, ska and electronica into it. Therefore, on opening track, Trouble, the 4/4 beat gets pushed around by chunky chords and a chorus that sparkles in the way that blokey rock just wouldn't. Later on, Last To Know is a fat mix of heavy rock and electronica but which opens with an acoustic guitar playing over a Roland synthesiser whilst one of the better songs, Tonight's The Night, sees a bassline snapped out of Blister In The Sun drift into the fluttering of keyboards and a swinging three-chord-trick straight out of Sweet Jane. Whilst these lifts are probably entirely accidental, the chorus on God Is A DJ does sound remarkably like Blur's Pressure On Julian from Modern Life Is Rubbish but there's never the feeling that the album suffers as a result of this. Instead, there's an immediate appeal to Try This as a result of hearing familiar styles and snippets of music welded to something new. Indeed, the only obvious sample on the album - Spirit's Fresh Garbage - accompanies Feel Good Time and, if only because it's such a little known song, Pink carries it off with a fair degree of style.
Where everything works best, however, is on Oh My God and Save My Life, which let a glimpse of tenderness break underneath the shouting. Cool backing vocals, a verse or two of rapping and a hint of sexuality amongst the tough girl posing puts Oh My God ahead of the pack but best of all is Save My Life, which tells a story about a girl slipping ever further downwards but who lets a boy who's willing to save her come into her life.
Of course, Try This doesn't always work for, when it doesn't try quite hard enough, it comes over as uncomfortable as Prince William looks when throwing gangsta shapes in photo ops. Try Too Hard, for example, whilst punk, has the sound all kids make on guitars when they get their first distortion pedal whilst Humble Neighborhoods is really punk for middle class kids who write plays about overthrowing The Man so long as their dad's credit cards last.
I don't really get it but then, as a thirty-two year old guy with two kids, I'm not really supposed to. I know that and Pink knows it too. When my daughter is a lot older than she is now, she'll get into whoever is the new Pink and she will, no doubt, swear at me, query my role in her conception and try to steal cash from my wallet. But that's how things should be - life works like that and music like this understands these things happen. Were Pink still doing the angry thing four, maybe five years from now, it'd get really dull but until it does, Try This does well in bringing the puff of fury from M!ssundaztood on a little.