Beautiful but scattered

It takes a while, but Bonnie Pink’s Just a Girl really gets under your skin. Only problem is that you have to get over a really bad first impression.

Let’s not mince words — Just a Girl is really scattered.

When veteran producer Mitchell Froom took the reins of Pink’s last album Let Go, he gave Pink clarity. As such, the album held together incredibly well, and Pink’s 70s rock vibe felt honest and genuine.

Just a Girl dips a cautious toe into some experimental territory, and the results are decidedly mixed.

On the opening track “Sweet”, Pink alternates from a straight-forward backbeat in the verses and a busy live drum ‘n’ bass beat for the chorus. It’s imaginative, but it feels forced.

“Communication” feels like a big rocker, but instead of employing power chords and electric guitars, Pink settles for ringing acoustic guitars.

“Buildling a Castle” depends on an introspective piano to drive it, but like “Sweet”, it alternates uncomfortably between slow verses and busy choruses.

“Sasei” employs an ominous bass, a disco beat and strings. If the rest of the album had similar-sounding songs, it would sound totally at home, but the rest of Just a Girl traffics in acoustic guitar, singer-songwriter fare, and the track stands out glaringly.

After the fourth or fifth listen however, Pink’s talent for melody and her soaring, sweet voice seeps into a listener’s subconscious.

Despite being a scattered album, the individual songs become hummable pieces, difficult to forget long after the album has ended.

“Nemurenai Nite” is just plain gorgeous. When Pink excoriates herself for being “just a stupid girl” in the title track, the heartbreak is totally engrossing.

And the singles preceding the album’s release — “Take Me In” and “Thinking of You” — are the album’s highest points.

Despite Pink’s lack of clarity, Just a Girl still manages to win listeners in the end. All it requires is a bit of effort.