Pink has always had a bad habit of sounding extremely impressed with herself, especially when racked by the kind of self-doubt and graced by the strains of self-awareness that aren't supposed to attend pop stars of her sort. Ever since she branded herself a renegade not quite comfortable with the chirpy party jams she broke out with, Pink has made a game of toggling between taking herself seriously and taking the piss—while absolutely adoring herself for all the clever and conflicted ways in which she does it.
It's a shame, because Pink can reach unusually stirring heights when in the right register. That register, on Funhouse, is something close to despondence with a lot of tiredness thrown in—just enough to make Pink forego her instinct for winking and simply sound pained instead. With its sassy-brash "na na na" refrain and wry insistence that being a "rock star" (irony intimated, if not fully invested in) counts as a victory after the devastation of divorce, the opening "So What" is so blaring and bad as to make Funhouse seem like a lost cause from the start. But then Pink is down in the dumps on "Sober," a solemn song that slinks along at a slower speed, the better to bear out the grainy range of her voice. "I Don't Believe You" is even better—a soaring, weepy ballad not the least bit abashed about being either.
"Bad Influence" represents the worst of the album, with a pleased-as-punch inventory of Pink's own rebelliousness and a circus-like sound that claims to have some explanation for what it means to be "the instigator of underwear." (It doesn't.) But then she's back to sad in "Glitter In The Air," with just her voice and a piano. It's simple and direct—and more affecting than even Pink seems to realize.