Hurts 2B Human
It’s kind of strange that P!nk is dropping a new album in the middle of the world tour for her last album (“Beautiful Trauma”). Then again, P!nk has always played by her own pop rulebook, so we guess this is fitting.
Still on her sonic trajectory that is equal parts Mae West, Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks, P!nk kicks off “Hurts 2B Human” with attitude and swagger on the bouncy electronic cabaret-sounding “Hustle” before settling into her breezy modern-pop groove with tracks like the upbeat “(Hey Why) Miss You Sometime” and the arresting “Walk Me Home.”
After that, the album settles into a pleasantly consistent holding pattern of reflective and soulful mid-tempo and slow-burning numbers of varying degrees of intensity and emotional resonance. Songs like “Love Me Anyway” and “The Last Song of Your Life” cover the acoustic, folk/country-tinged side of the spectrum, while the title track, “Circle Game” and “90 Days” hold down the R&B/pop-ballad terrain.
P!nk’s balls-out rock/punk side is noticeably absent in this effort, but that’s a small complaint when the collection is so strong and assured. With this latest release, it’s easy to see why she has remained on top of the global pop-star game as long as she has.
It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a new studio album from the legendary singer. Her last studio effort was 2007’s “Funk This” — but her new release proves the 12-year wait was worth it.
With only seven tracks and clocking in at less than 28 minutes, this short and concise effort compared to most albums these days. But readers of a certain age still remember the vinyl-album days when seven songs and 30-ish minutes of music were what you got with a new record. The truth is, seven songs are enough this all-killer, no-filler collection — just enough to fascinate without becoming tiresome.
For this outing Kahn takes a slight side trip from the raw funk and R&B of her last album and brings in a healthy dose of electro and disco to serve as the sonic backdrop for her legendary voice. The title track and “Like a Lady” have the kind of mechanized disco muscle that makes us really miss Daft Punk. (And Chaka sings better that any auto-tuned robot anyway, so it’s all good.)
Kahn doesn’t abandon her funk roots completely. Tracks like “Don’t Cha Know” and “Like Sugar” bristle with gritty guitar work, limber bass lines and soulful psychedelic organs that would give the Isley Brothers a run for their money in the ass-shaking department. There’s also a splendid detour into reggae territory with the excellent “Isn’t That Enough.”
At this stage of her career, it’s commendable that Kahn isn’t coasting on her past glories and impressive catalog. An album like “Hello Happiness” is just enough of a brilliant tease to keep us wanting more.
Still On My Mind
British singer Dido takes a deep dive into folk and New Age with her latest album — an ideal vehicle for her ethereal voice. Awash with lush, beautiful, and glorious soundscapes in the form of piano driven tracks like “Walking By” and “Give You Up,” as well as acoustic guitar-laden folksy songs like “Some Kind of Love,” Dido moves away from trip-hop with this new album.
New age and ambient textures dominate the overall mood of the album but remain are the undercurrents of EDM and trance influences keeping things eclectic and interesting. “Take You Home” has a sultry and up-tempo vibe that somehow still fits in with the overall feel of the album. “Hell After This” has a quirky beatbox flavor that really stands out.
Dido’s new album might be a little more subdued than her previous efforts but it still offers a delightful sonic trip to embark upon. If you need a soundtrack for your next spa day or yoga marathon, this is the playlist for you.