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Pink

The Truth About Love

RCA

File next to: Lady Gaga, Linda Perry

Pink's sixth and latest studio album proves she's still at the top of the contemporary pop heap, a superb songwriter who delivers her tunes with a punch, heart and humor. Bouncing between anthems and power ballads, she's again the tough and tender girl, typically provocative on the foul-mouthed hit "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," and bracingly honest on "True Love," where she expresses her desire to "slap you in your whole face." She turns a one-night stand into a "Walk of Shame" and looks at the double-standard of such affairs in the equally humorous "Slut Like You." There's even romance on the title cut and the ballad "Beam Me Up." Working with a range of producers and co-writers, Pink rambles from the dance floor to the bedroom with sass and vigor, again setting the bar high for all of her would-be competitors. She's simply the best. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Band of Horses

Mirage Rock

Brown/Columbia

File next to: Dawes, Neil Young

Band of Horses rev things up a little on Mirage Rock, the Seattle-turned-South Carolina band's fourth album, as the group moves closer to becoming "THE Band of Indie Americana." Produced by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Glyn Johns (best known for recording classic Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin albums), the record has a classic sound that's rich and ringing. It kicks off with rocker "Knock Knock," then slides into the big-beat country of "How to Live," a harmony-filled track that brings to mind the Flying Burrito Brothers. Elsewhere, Band of Horses sounds like it's channeling Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with Ben Bridwell's voice sounding like Young. The subject matter is suggested by song titles like "A Little Biblical," "Dumpster World" and "Heartbreak On the 101" — all tunes that, like the rest of the album, reward repeat listening. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Dwight Yoakam

3 Pears

Warner Music Nashville

File next to: The Mavericks, Buck Owens

On 3 Pears, Dwight Yoakam signed up Kid Rock to co-write a song and brought in Beck to produce a couple more. But no guest help was needed for him to make another smart album whose style isn't contemporary Nashville, but country as all get out. The record kicks off with "Take Hold of My Hand," the Kid Rock co-penned shuffle. Things then get hardcore honky tonk on a rockin' version of Rose and Joe Maphis' classic "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke," while the artist shows his ballad mastery on the Beck-produced "A Heart Like Mine." As would be expected, 3 Pears is filled with pedal steel, twangy guitar, a big country beat and Yoakam's distinctive nasally Kentucky twang. But there are also hints of the Beatles and rock 'n roll vocal groups, a little folk and some vintage country, making this Yoakam's best release in more than a decade. — L. Kent Wolgamott

  • Pink, Band of Horses, Dwight Yoakam

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