Adam Lambert | Trespassing (Sony)

lambert tresspassingThis goes far, far beyond guilty pleasure.

The press release arrived in my inbox, same as hundreds of others. It contained a link to a stream of the new Adam Lambert CD, Trespassing. I am not a reality TV fan; I had never so much as heard Adam Lambert before. (To say I’m a bit of a music snob—or was, anyway—wouldn’t be far off the mark.)

On a lark, I decided to click it; I just wanted to see what he sounded like.

I didn’t expect to fall in love.

From the get-go—the über-catchy title track—I was hooked. The song begins with group vocals and hand claps, buttressed by a steady, addictive beat. And Lambert’s vocals? If you (like much of America) have already been exposed, you know how sublime his voice is: straight out, falsetto, full throttle, controlled scream—really, he can do it all.

Following “Trespassing” is “Cuckoo,” another high-energy, dance-floor tune that turns the levels up another notch. With perfect dance-pop sensibility, it’s all you need to be caught Trespassing—hook, line, and sinker.

“No, I ain’t broken/ but I need a fix,” Lambert admits on “Shady,” a funk-filled tune featuring Nile Rodgers and Sam Sparro. Mmm…tasty. The soaring “Never Close Our Eyes” (which, I’m told, is the first single) finds Lambert’s R&B-tinged vocals rising over a bass-heavy keyboard line: “Why can’t we just live life with no consequence/ and always live life in the now?” Sort of deep for a simple pop song, if you think about it.

And then there’s “Kickin’ In.” I can’t say enough about this song; it completely kicks my ass. Heavy ’80s vocal influences (stuttered, repeating, modified) mixed with a rapid-fire refrain delivery and nonstop, dance-inducing beat make this one of the best party songs you’ll hear all year. Lambert’s high-pitched, full-throated “No, no, no” is the cherry on the sundae.

“Naked Love” keeps the party going in fine form before giving way to “Pop That Lock.” This one’s right up there with “Kickin’ In,” so perfect an ass-shaking pop song it is. Techno-heavy keyboards drop off to Lambert’s lightly backed vocals before the full-throttle refrain kicks in. The artist’s ruby-throated vocals following an instrumental bridge are most impressive.

With some albums, my interest sometimes flags when the slower songs kick in, but that isn’t the case here. Lambert’s vocals continue to captivate; I find new things to appreciate with each successive song—and repeated listen. The mellower “Better Than I Know Myself” leads into a slightly more upbeat “Broken English,” which finds Lambert singing his truth: “Tower of Babel has fallen down again/ information disarray/ I don’t know who I should believe in/ everyone’s an authority.”

cd Adam Lambert-spotify“Underneath” plays like Trespassing’s anthem: personal, meaningful, vocal-driven, and textured. “Everybody wants to talk about a freak,” Lambert admits; “No one wants to dig that deep./ Let me take you underneath.” When he reaches octaves higher to command, “Look at me/ Do you see?” you want to do nothing else but oblige.

Slow burner “Bring It on Back” is another vocal showcase, a fact especially obvious in the bridge. Lambert slips into an easy falsetto on the refrain to “Outlaws of Love,” delivered gently and with heart-on-sleeve feeling. “Chokehold” is insinuatingly catchy, its slow burn bordering on sexy. (And that’s before you get to the lyrics.)

The lovely ballad “Outlaws of Love” bursts into a controlled bloom on the refrain, giving way to voice play that’s eerily reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. “Smoldering” aptly describes “Runnin’”; somehow, despite Lambert’s soulful and flexible voice, it stays in check—but just barely. But the chains come off on “Take Back,” which again boasts techno-flavored keyboard strokes and the full range of the ex-Idol’s vocal prowess.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Trespassing does so with “Nirvana.” Fittingly, Lambert ties it all together with another ballad, complete with uplifting lyrics: “When the stars are too cold/ Frozen over the glow/ On the edge of the night/ We can be their light.” And now it’s time to press “repeat.”

This goes far, far beyond guilty pleasure. In fact, Trespassing dominates my most-played list on Spotify (as my husband was quick to point out). Pop music aficionados, you already know what I’m talking about, as Trespassing debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. As for you, fellow music snobs: Go ahead. Give in. You have permission to hold your head up proudly while you give in to the oh-so-perfect Adam Lambert groove. A+ | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Prince, Wham!, Chic

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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