I’m not sure what I was expecting from a new Adam Lambert album. I thought he was interesting on “American Idol”-his nose for theatrics and his powerful voice separated him from the rest of the pack (and only good ol’ Middle American homophobia prevented him from winning the season.) His first post-“Idol” album, For Your Entertainment, was more entertaining than I expected. Adam’s voice proved to be pretty versatile, working it’s way through bombastic ballads, fluttery rockers, and straight ahead pop-rock. I wasn’t super-excited about a follow-up, but Adam’s rep ensured that I’d at least give it a listen, which is more than I can say for…well, just about anyone from the last four seasons of that dang-blasted show.
Well, here we are. After numerous delays, Lambert’s sophomore effort, Trespassing, is officially here. The voice is as full-bodied as it was before (man, how nice is it to hear someone who can sing without computer assistance?) but the music has changed a bit. Adam’s gone full-out dance-pop here, and it actually works to his advantage. It gives lip-service to current trends but the folks Lambert works with here (a motley crew of collaborators that runs the gamut from Bruno Mars to Pharrell Williams) haven’t forgotten the need for melody. All great dance music is able to be sung along with outside of the club, and the fact that the folks on Team Adam remembered that pushes Trespassing to the front of the line in terms of pop music circa 2012.
The first 2/3 of the album is a non-stop dance party. Skateboard P contributes two of his best compositions in years-the title track (which is a bit reminiscent of “Hollaback Girl” but, you know, good) and the heavily caffeinated “Kickin’ In.” Adam joins forces with Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and Aussie soul singer Sam Sparro for the sassy “Shady” and then channels P!nk circa “Raise Your Glass” for the track “Naked Love.” All of the songs mentioned are melodically sound and masterfully sung. There aren’t too many singers out these days (particularly dude singers) with the lung power of Glambert.
The midtempo and ballad cuts that comprise the last third of the album aren’t bad, either. Adam wrings every ounce of drama out of the standout track “Underneath,” while “Chokehold” suggests Depeche Mode from the Violator-era as sung by a 21st century version of Freddie Mercury. At a compact 12 tracks (guess who finds it unnecessary to spring for deluxe versions?) Trespassing is satisfying and it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
The ratio of bad albums to good albums that have emerged from the “American Idol” camp in the last decade is something like 30: 1. Aside from Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia and possibly Elliott Yamin, I can’t think of a contestant from the TV show who has put out more than one album worth a damn (with all apologies to Carrie Underwood, I’m just not a fan.) Adam Lambert has succeeded in not only putting out two solid albums, but also makes me quite curious about what he might pull out of his glittery hat for album #3.
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