CLARIFICATION: This is the post from which the other “3 things about Adam Lambert” posts originated. I split them up. For the post of the Out kerfuffle, go here. For the post about the AMAs performance, go here. This post is now just a review of the album.
By the way, Adam Lambert’s album is $15.70 on iTunes and $3.99 at Amazon.com.
And then there’s the album. I listened to it streaming on iLike several times, and now I’ve got the whole thing on my iPod. It’s a good pop album, but it is not a Great Album that transcends Top 40. There are some great songs, some great vocals — some really great vocals — and some great fun. It’s at its best when it’s Bowie-meets-Gaga-after-drinks-with-Madonna, and at its worst when it’s Chris Daughtry songs with Adam Lambert’s voice. There are some tracks that were clearly focus-grouped and/or forced on the album by executives, and the whole thing is wildly over-produced. I mean, did they really need that many instruments, that many vocal loops, and that much sound? Still, it’s one of the better 19-controlled post-“Idol” albums. Here’s my track-by-track reviewlet:
- “Music Again.” Written by Justin Hawkins of The Darkness. It sounds like slightly watered-down Darkness song, complete with the dog-whistle high notes in the refrain. It’s thematically apt, and it’s hooky. Good.
- “For Your Entertainment.” Written by Lukasz Gottwald (Dr. Luke) and Claude Kelly. Despite the hard-to-hear and weirdly over-sung version on the AMAs, this is a great dance pop song. It’s aggressive and thuddy, and I want to dance when I hear it. Granted, since it was released a few weeks ago, I’ve listened to it at least a few dozen times, so it’s a Pavlovian response at this point.
- “Whataya Want From Me.” Written by P!nk, Max Martin, and Shellback. This is the best song and best track on the album. Adams sounds fantastic when he’s controlled, and the song, as written, is clear and emotionally resonant. And oddly, considering Max Martin’s presence, it’s subtle. But it’s crazy catchy, too, so that’s got the Swedish Svengali written all over it.
- “Strut.” Written by Adam, Kara DioGuardi, and Greg Wells. This track doesn’t do anything for me. It sounds like the less interesting baby brother of “For Your Entertainment” or “Fever.” Also, Adam sounds like he’s sneering. Which makes sense if you think strutting is obnoxious, instead of confident.
- “Soaked.” Written by Matthew Bellamy of Muse. Oh, thank God for Muse. This isn’t quite as great as anything on Muse’s last couple albums, but Bellamy knows how to take the theatrics of 70s arena rock and retrofit it for the 21st century. I can’t imagine it as a single, unless of course 94.9 in San Diego realized that Adam doing Muse is about as “alternative” as you can get. However, I can also imagine Liza Minnelli doing this song well, too. Hmm.
- “Sure Fire Winners.” Written by David Gamson, Alexander James, and Oliver Lieber. This is “We Are The Champions” channeled by some studio jockeys who enjoy sampling whatever beats are on the Top 40 right now. (One of these guys is responsible for “Forever Your Girl,” another was in Blur, and the third is an industry stand-by.) Not good. Though I adore the line “my baby clothes made of leather and lace.” Snicker.
- “A Loaded Smile.” Written by Linda Perry. As pretty as this song is, and as retro cool as the production is, I keep listening to it over and over so that I can say something about it, but I get so bored that I wander off to something else and forget that I was supposed to be paying attention, so then I listen to it again and the same thing happens, again.
- “If I Had You.” Written Max Martin, Shellback, and Savan Kotecha. This is a Kelly Clarkson song (that she would probably find annoying) with Adamized lyrics. It’s catchy but cynical.
- “Pick U Up.” Written by Rivers Cuomo, Greg Wells, and Adam. This sounds like a cast-off from a Weezer album. It should have been cast-off from this one, too. Adam sounds good, especially in the refrain, but it’s boring. This would have been a good place for some brilliant re-envisioned cover.
- “Fever.” Written by Lady Gaga and Jeff Bhasker. This is the only song where Adam explicitly addresses a man as a love-interest (and I’m not the only one who noticed this). This is sad, but I guess it was a cynical decision based on the naked homophobia of American radio. But damn: This song is hot and sexy and “ménage à trois” is repeated a lot. The beat is dirty and so very Gaga, and it’s the bomb. The bomb, I tell you.
- “Sleepwalker.” Written by Ryan Tedder, Aimee Mayo, and Chris Lindsey. This track has gotten some bad reviews, but even though it is embedded in a wall of sound, which I don’t always like, its bombast makes me think of a delightfully dramatic love child of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Sowing the Seeds of Love.”
- “Aftermath.” Written by Adam, Alisan Porter, Ferras, and Ely Rise. This is a Chris Daughtry song. And I’m sick of Chris Daughtry.
- “Broken Open.” Written by Greg Wells, Adam, and Evan Bogart. This sounds like a Matt Alber song. Gorgeous.
- “Time For Miracles.” Written by Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider. As much as this song is 90s Diane Warren retread — and since it’s the theme from 2012, it’s practically a clone of her “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” from Armageddon — I just love it. I feel dirty for loving it, but it’s such a great tune. It’s produced right, and it’s sung brilliantly.
- “Master Plan.” Bonus Track. Written by Ryan Tedder. Awful, if catchy. “Bonus” is clearly a misnomer. Though I must say I like the fact that it could be interpreted as a sung manifesto for the Gay Agenda.
- “Down the Rabbit Hole.” Bonus Track. Written by Adam, Greg Wells, and Evan Bogart. Since it is trapped on the overpriced iTunes-only album, I haven’t heard it yet. This would be one of the best songs on the album. I can’t fathom why it’s a “Bonus” not in the place of, say, “Sure Fire Winners.” It’s raucous electro-rock with a Darkness, Franz Ferdinand edge. Awesome.
I give it 3 1/2 stars out of five.