Adam Lambert: Behind-the-Scenes Portraits

86 Billboard Rating

"I don't need no sympathy, I won't cry and whine/Life's my light and liberty, and I'll shine when I wanna shine," Adam Lambert sings on "Trespassing's" title track, which is in the running for 2012's "Most Deliriously Fun Pop Track" crown. The former "American Idol" finalist is often haunted by expectations and identity issues in his singles, but Lambert sports his most brilliant colors when he is oozing confidence, as on "Trespassing" and, thankfully, most of his second album.

Adam Lambert Live Q&A | PHOTOS: Behind-The-Scenes Portraits

Lambert's latest full-length dips into a variety of genres, playfully prodding at electronica and exploring the rock balladry of 2009 debut "For Your Entertainment," but mostly, Lambert just wants to dance. The first half of "Trespassing" frolics through well-worn funk, house and electro-pop tropes, but the club capers never get stale, thanks to Lambert's vocal charisma and ridiculous power. A song like "Shady" could collapse under its fatuous lyrics, but on the track, Lambert demonstrates the raw energy that would make him a great frontman for a band like, say, Queen.

Because of the outlandishness embedded in everything he touches, it's easy to not take Adam Lambert seriously. This, of course, is a mistake. "Trespassing" continues the work of the underrated "For Your Entertainment" and allows the singer to keep unveiling his character in broad, colorful strokes. The lesson with Adam Lambert is the same now as it was when he was burning up "Idol" three years ago -- underestimate him at your own risk.

Which songs on "Trespassing" are worth your time? Check out our track-by-track review of Adam Lambert's latest album.

1. Trespassing - A startling, stomping, altogether tremendous opening, in which Lambert snarls "Wait 'til you get a load of me" while strutting over a Pharrell Williams beat that Michael Jackson would have loved.

2. Cuckoo - Lambert leaps from MJ to Daft Punk, with a waterfall of synthesizers raining down upon his chest-thumping party plans. The line "Gonna get out of this straitjacket!" smacks of double entendre.

3. Shady - Robotic posing leads into some harmonized funk, as Lambert requests a ticket to the underground. Third straight track with killer production.

4. Never Close Our Eyes - The album's first ballad? Nope. The emotional opening turns out to be a red herring for another supple Euro-dance anthem that recalls David Guetta's most effective singles.

5. Kickin' In - With its crazed synth intro segueing into another tightly wound, club-set banger, "Kickin' In" becomes the front-runner for the song most likely to dazzle in Lambert's live show.

6. Naked Love - It's still uptempo, but "Naked Love" exhibits a tenderness missing from the previous tracks' salacious come-ons. Perhaps it won't be a single, but "Naked Love" is vital to "Trespassing's" sense of balance.

7. Pop That Lock - "Tonight we burn it all!" Lambert professes before another cavalcade of percussive drops and piercing keystrokes cave in his voice. One of the album's few whiffs.

8. Better Than I Know Myself - The logical sequel to "Whataya Want From Me," the lead single retains its icy sheen months after it first hit airwaves, as Lambert exposes his most vulnerable tendencies in stirring fashion.

9. Broken English - A downright strange amalgamation of styles: Lambert hopscotches between R&B verses, massive pop hooks and dubstep twitches before seemingly free-falling in the bridge. It shouldn't make sense, but the singer ties it together.

10. Underneath - A revealing, piano-driven ballad that ramps up into 'epic' mode as time elapses. Sadly, this would have packed more of a wallop if it had been uniformly bare throughout, as in its first minute.

11. Chokehold - The verses float freely and let Lambert muse on past relationship transgressions. The refrains carry an industrial quality, with a guitar speaking as severely as the vocalist. The listener gets to soak it all in, blissfully.

12. Outlaws of Love - "Everywhere we go, we're looking for the sun/Nowhere to grow old, we're always on the run," Lambert laments, as he seemingly drags himself out of the club and stares bleary-eyed into the future. More than any other song here, "Outlaws" demonstrates Lambert's impressive range -- he can play the sober adult just as well as the carefree party-starter.

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