Beautiful Trauma, Vol. 2 would be an equally accurate name for P!nk’s newest album. Two years after her semi-acoustic return to the spotlight, the singer is back with Hurts 2B Human, a collection of vaguely political tracks that encompass the spectrum of P!nk’s feelings since the current administration took office. Much like its predecessor, it finds itself in less produced territory, preferring the use of real or programmed instruments over the swathe of synths that dominated P!nk’s late-2000s/early-2010s output. Despite being an incredibly viable production route for the singer, she mostly fails to enhance the material like she’s so often done before.
Things start off well enough on opener “Hustle” — a brassy introduction that serves as a red herring for the rest of the record. “(Hey Why) Miss You Sometime,” though the most sonically interesting song here, sounds like it would fit much better on 2012’s The Truth About Love; “Courage” is essentially a copy-and-paste of Fall Out Boy’s “Champion” (both are Sia co-writes); the Chris Stapleton-assisted “Love Me Anyway” carries little-to-no chemistry between the two artists. Despite clear star power poking out in the credits, none of it feels authentic to anyone involved.
As much as the album sits at the middle-of-the-road, there are moments of true greatest here. Two of the collaborations — “90 Days” and the title track, featuring Wrabel and Khalid, respectively — are some of the most emotionally resonate songs on the record, and “Circle Game” uses its cyclical title to great effect as a juxtaposition between P!nk’s life as both a mother and a daughter. It’s songs like these where the singer sounds assured in her artistry, allowing listeners to understand the pain she’s feeling; consistency is the real issue here. While most of the songs of Hurts 2B Human are fine, that’s not something that a powerhouse such as P!nk has ever allowed for herself; in sticking to the tried-and-true formula from the last record, she fails to sound as inspired as she has previously.
Standout tracks: “Hustle,” “90 Days,” “Hurts 2B Human,” “Circle Game”