Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz
P!nk begins her ninth studio album in the same mode that she has spent most of the last decade in – a straightforward, polished piano ballad. “I think of you // When I think about forever // I hear a joke and I know // You would’ve told it better,” she sings, seemingly setting up “When I Get There” to be another nice-enough breakup ballad. Then, at the end of the first verse, the twist comes,“You were always first in line // So why would it be different for heaven,” revealing the song not to be about a breakup at all but instead about a death. It’s a moment of compelling storytelling that you’d be forgiven for forgetting P!nk was capable of.
But if “When I Get There” is P!nk making the most of her predictable, safe sonic choices, the rest of the album finds her resting on her laurels – to results that are predictably dull. The title track is a desperate and transparent attempt at making a hit, but the overbearing synth beat subsumes P!nk’s voice, and the self-help themed lyrics deprive the song of any sort of compelling narrative arc. The song asks existential questions (“Are we running out of time? // Are we hiding from the light?”) but in ways that are so uninspired and so unpassionately delivered, that it never feels like there are any real stakes at the song’s core.
P!nk spends most of Trustfall cycling through various tired clichés over adult-contemporary, soft-rock, and ballad-type arrangements. Over a sedate piano line, she cries, “throw your sticks and stones at me” on “Lost Cause” while on “Turbulence” she decries “a mountain in the middle of the road” – a messy, awkward fusion of metaphors. “Runaway,” which decries a life lived in “black and white”, commits the same sin as the title track – once again, synths consume P!nk’s voice into a tired, overbearing sonic palette.
There are some variations in the track list, which if not successful in their own right, are at least relatively interesting in the context of the album. On “Hate Me,” P!nk hints at readopting her quintessentially bratty tone (“So hate me, hate me // I’m the villain you made me, made me”), over driving drums that read as a half-hearted attempt to join in on the pop-punk revival. But the whole thing ultimately feels undercooked, lacking the bite of a “So What.” The song “Last Call” sees P!nk finding drunken clarity at closing time in a bar, hints at depth (“Let’s not go home, let’s not die alone // That’s what it all comes down to”) and the country-charred mandolin buried deep in the mix proves that with better writing and production, the song could have been a great, rootsy ballad.
Trustfall ultimately is dated, reliably undaring, and consistently plays it offensively safe – the writing and production choices are so stale and so impersonal that contributions from two of modern country’s greatest stars, Brandi Carlile and Chris Stapleton, instantly get lost into a sea of nothingness. A meme went viral on Twitter last year when a video of P!nk shooting across one side of a stadium to another in a harness was shared. “She has no song where she needs to be doing this,” opined the viral tweet. P!nk’s best and most ferocious songs, like “So What” and “Raise Your Glass” may provide a strong counterpoint to that argument, but certainly nothing on Trustfall does.