Life changes after you see Pink live in concert. For one thing, every time you hear a new Pink song you can’t help but wonder: “Will this be in the flying portion of the show or is it more of a slow-dance martial arts number?” On her eighth album Hurts 2B Human, there are chest-beating, middle-finger jabbing anthems in every shade of Pink (from Valentine’s Day Pink to Blood-Runs-Pink Pink). At the top of the track list are definite set additions like the boogie-woogie-ing “Hustle” (“I live my life like a bullet in a gun/ Give you all my love ‘til my patience is done,” she sings) and the Nate Ruess cowrite “Walk Me Home,” a jacked-up sequel to their trapeze-core ballad “Just Give Me A Reason.”
The pacing of Hurts 2B Human is telling. Pink sings “I abhor reality” on the sugary dance song “Can We Pretend” featuring Cash Cash. But when she digs into what’s getting her down, it’s the most brazen and heartbroken she’s ever sounded. On the Sia-cowritten “Courage,” Pink’s voice swings up the scale on its own chandelier. “I don’t have to do this perfectly,” she sings. “Happy” (co-written by Teddy Geiger and Sasha Sloan) reminds us she is also the patron saint of the Missundaztood: “Can somebody find me a pill to make me unafraid of me/ Maybe I’m just scared to be happy,” she sings, as if raising a glass to acolytes like Demi Lovato, Dua Lipa, Alessia Cara, Bebe Rexha, husky-voiced, underdog divas who clearly rocked out to her 2001 album.
Pink steps into duet-mode with a varied trio of partners: Wrabel (“90 Days”), Khalid (“Hurts 2B Human”) and Chris Stapleton (“Love Me Anyway”), transforming the chaos of insecurity into confessional ballet, which is kind of her super power these days. It sets the stage for “Circle Game,” the most vulnerable addition to the Pink canon in recent memory, a meditation on motherhood and mortality. Pink sings about how seeing herself in her daughter makes her long for the time her father took care of her as a little girl. She mourns that memory and also mourns the version of herself that didn’t know how transient life is. “In the Circle Game, no one ever stopped to say/ Soon it’s gonna change, it all just goes away.” You can hear sobs all the way to the nose-bleeds.