Monday, November 23, 2009

Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment (19)

Having been robbed of the title of American Idol winner 2009, most likely thanks to a sizeable display of small-mindedness from the good folk of Bible Country, it’s perhaps no surprise that Adam Lambert has taken the opportunity to craft an album which pretty much functions as a great big fuck you. For Your Entertainment paints a picture of a brash, theatrical, yet immensely gifted character ready to turn more than a few heads.

Opener Music Again sets a tone evidently designed to scare listeners from even reaching Track 2, all shoehorned falsetto and clichés and mispronunciation ('raison d’être' has about nine syllables here). It’s a relief, then, that it’s a mere red herring, perhaps intentionally – setting the bar so low to begin with means For Your Entertainment only improves as it progresses, save for one or two misses.

When not attached to the visuals of a stocky six-footer, it’s interesting to hear the androgynous qualities of Lambert’s voice. Sadly, this is most apparent on Strut, the minciest song ever penned – presumably using a magenta glitter-gel ballpoint from Claire’s Accessories – which makes Music Again sound like Bohemian Rhapsody. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to fault some seriously astounding vocals, making the second-place result all the more a travesty.

Pink and Max Martin take writing and production duties on Whataya Want From Me, an attitudey Scandirock ballad typical of both parties at the helm. It’s a theme that runs throughout For Your Entertainment – the Justin Hawkins offering sounds like Justin Hawkins; the Lady Gaga song sounds like Lady Gaga; the Muse track sounds like Muse. And while the latter is by no means a bad thing – in fact, the magnificent Soaked is a strong contender for standout track – it feels as though Lambert himself has taken a backseat to the rollcall of contributors.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, it’s the more downbeat numbers that allow Lambert to truly shine. The ghostly, wintry gut-wrencher of Broken Open; the cinematic gloss of Time For Miracles; and the radio-friendly yet candid Aftermath each display a musicianship absent from a lot of the album. That said, these tracks also carry a harder-edged guitar sound, therefore lending themselves to the glam-rock qualities we came to love Lambert for.

Maybe, then, the real Adam Lambert is the very-human musician hidden beneath the veneer of bulb flashes and airbrushing and controversy. Whoever he is, he’s one talented individual. And in spite of any shortcomings For Your Entertainment displays, it’s safe to assume it’s a hundred times better than the album Lambert would’ve made had he won.

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