Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Track-by-Track Review

REVIEWED ITEM: For Your Entertainment (Album)

I've learned never to judge an Idol contestant on their first album. Each time, it's primarily a producer's effort, filled with songs plucked from the vaults to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. If they're lucky, the artist will get to nudge parts of the album in an interesting direction or two. I adored Adam Lambert on the Idol stage, but what about as a recording artist?

1. Music Again - Kicking the album off in the best way possible, this Justin Hawkins-penned track is a template Lambert would be wise to follow in the future. He promised us that glam rock is back. This song delivers fully on that promise, with a sugary hook and one hell of a vocal performance. 10/10

2. For Your Entertainment - The first single, and not entirely representative of the album as a whole. This sounds very much like a male version of Britney Spears (a male version who can, y'know, sing). It ditches guitars in favor of a straightforward electro stomp. I wasn't completely sold at first, but this is a grower. 9/10

3. Whataya Want From Me - In some ways, this could be considered the most middle-of-the-road, radio-friendly song on the album. Luckily, Lambert's vocals imbue it with enough character to keep it from sounding too anonymous. This would be a wise crossover choice for radio. 10/10

4. Strut - The beat is nice, as are the guitars. The lyrics (often the weakest facet of the album) are the real letdown here. They're just pretty lame, honestly. The chorus has an interesting shout-along melody that displays Lambert's range pretty stunningly, and the song sounds better the louder you play it. 8/10

5. Soaked - A Muse castoff, this ballad was totally underwhelming in demo form, but Adam manages to transform it into something quite dramatic. His vocals get the full workout here, and they're as impressive as they always were. It opens with a dramatic orchestral flourish and never really lets up. The only downside is that it still sounds very much like a Muse song, rather than an Adam song. 9/10

6. Sure Fire Winners - One of my least-favorite uptempos on the album, this seems to nod to the double-punch of Queen's We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions, but something about it doesn't quite gel. It has the glammy punch I like, but isn't nearly as strong as the first track. Still, at least it's identifiably Adam. And the guitar riff towards the end is really nice. 7/10

7. A Loaded Smile - The song that always seems to fade into the background. It's more of a placeholder than anything. It's a pretty placeholder, for sure, and very atmospheric, but needs a stronger melody to be truly effective. It's nice to hear the falsetto, though. 8/10

8. If I Had You - A high octane dance track, this sounds like something that would be popular in Sweden (think BWO, Ola Svensson, etc). And, surprise, it was written by the always-reliable Swedes. Great beat, great lyrics and fantastic delivery. This gets the album back on track with a jolt. 10/10

9. Pick U Up - The second highlight after Music Again, this uptempo (co-written by Weezer's Rivers Cuomo (!)) has a melody that builds and builds until it absolutely explodes at the end. It's a fantastic, gripping production that utilizes Lambert's ridiculous vocals to full-effect. Even the annoying laugh at the end doesn't derail this stunner (friendly note to Adam Lambert: don't ever laugh on a song again. Doesn't work unless you're Janet Jackson) 10/10

10. Fever - Continuing the strong streak, I loved this song as a Lady Gaga demo and I'm happy that they've changed it up for this album. Instead of the classic-rock styling of the Gaga version, the song's been transformed into a Scissor Sisters vs. George Michael electro number, and it works well. Lambert sounds like he's having a lot of fun with this one. The feeling's contagious. 10/10

11. Sleepwalker - You can spot a Ryan Tedder song miles away, and that's really the only thing that holds this one back. Kicking off the string of ballads at the end of the album, this is a strong one, with a big, multitracked chorus. Lambert sounds a lot like Darren Hayes on the ballads. That's a good thing, by the way. 9/10

12. Aftermath - The cheesiest sounding ballad on the album, this sounds very much like a song you'd expect to hear from an Idol contestant and seems the furthest from the sound Adam is aiming for. Still, for this kind of a track, it's above average. 8/10

13. Broken Open - A beautiful way to end the album (before the bonus track), this atmospheric electro-ballad displays Lambert's falsetto at its Mad World best. It's a very promising musical statement that bodes well for his longevity. 10/10

14. Time For Miracles - I won't score, since this is basically a bonus track, but I've gotta say I still really like it. I'm a sucker for these big disaster movie ballads.

Album Grade: 9.1/10

No comments:

Post a Comment