From early on in her solo career, Alecia Moore has cultivated a reputation for being a fiercely independent and outspoken alternative to the “standard” female pop stars who dominated the scene in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Love her or hate her Moore demanded respect, which she earned with her subsequent successes – built upon her powerful, emotive vocals, as well as her energetic and acrobatic live performances – and in doing so proved to be a worthy role-model to the legions of fans who simply know her as P!nk.
With her seventh studio album, Beautiful Trauma, Moore plays to her strengths with little – aside from a vein of melancholic introspection that underlies many of the tracks – to surprise listeners. Moore’s affective vocals are placed on full display on lead single What About Us, a lament about the global trend towards the basest forms of populist politics and the multitudes that end up disillusioned, disenfranchised, or simply overlooked and neglected in the process. The titular Beautiful Trauma, which opens the record, coasts along on the charm of Moore’s voice with the song’s electro-pop not really engaging.
Eminem features on the he-versus-she track, Revenge, and while Moore’s R&B style delivery on the verses doesn’t quite hit the mark – despite a sense of malevolent fun in the melody – she gives a strong performance on the chorus, and overall the combination with Eminem is rather pleasing. Barbies gives voice to the adult desire for a return to the simplicity of childhood, and is equal parts poignant and kidult gripe, while the piano and strings ballad But We Lost It paints a picture of a relationship at risk of unspooling.
Beautiful Trauma lags through its second half, in spite of I Am Here’s upbeat energy and Where We Go’s catchy beat, although closing number You Get My Love distracts from this, with Moore giving a powerful performance with only a moody piano for accompaniment. If the listener is willing to just enjoy Moore’s vocal talents, then most of Beautiful Trauma’s shortcomings can be overlooked, and if not the album indicates a move towards a more mature P!nk on future releases.