It’s extremely hard and close to unfathomable to speak of a music album as of an “instant classic” when it’s not even out in stores, yet this is precisely what’s happening with Adam Lambert’s debut material “For Your Entertainment.” Due out on November 23, Lambert’s first studio album is a wonderful collection of intoxicating tracks oscillating from insane electropop / disco / rock to powerful, emotion-laden ballads hailing the arrival of the next glam rock idol.
Very high hopes were pinned on Lambert and this was even before he finished off last season of American Idol – and surprisingly came out in second place – which also means that a lot of pressure was put on him to deliver a debut album that would break the mold. In this respect, he more than delivers, with this piece that is mainstream pop yet not, by being so uniquely overboard and beautifully eccentric. Critics agree Lambert has literally taken a page out of music history with “FYE,” a very versatile album that swerves from one sound to another with ease from track to track, taking the listener into that glitzy world where Glambert, the unleashed diva, reigns supreme.
For starters, suffice to say that all comparisons between Adam Lambert and Freddie Mercury are not without merit, since only he could mix such apparently campy sound with true quality without losing anything of either. Lambert is not afraid to go from one extreme to another, as neither is he shy to showcase his effortless falsetto voice and how wonderfully it goes with undulations marked by heavy guitar riffs or, on the contrary, heavily synthesized and overproduced beats. Another thing that Adam is extremely comfortable with on “FYE” is emotion in its purest and most touching form (“Soaked,” “Broken Open”) or its remarkable absence, where the void is filled by fun and nothing more (“Music Again,” “For Your Entertainment” and “Sure Fire Winners”).
Architecturally very complex and multi-layered, “FYE” opens strongly with “Music Again,” a radio and club anthem if we ever saw one, with distinct Queen and Mika accents here and there. “For Your Entertainment” follows promptly on the same note, only to have Adam settle down a bit in “Whataya Want from Me.” The pace picks up again with the extremely campy “Strut,” but the rhythm breaks again with the heart-wrenching “Soaked,” a ballad where Lambert’s voice soars and falls down to a whisper as if in a beat of the heart.
“FYE” continues on the same tone with ballads interspersed among very up-tempo tracks, marking breathers for listeners who would otherwise run the risk of ending up with a serious case of head rush. That much diversity and distinct sounds, like an explosion, as well as different topics can, at times, work against the album in that it becomes intoxicating, as some critics also point out. This doesn’t happen necessarily because Lambert is trying too hard to prove himself, but rather because of the many producers whom he co-opted to work with and who have each come with their distinctive elements.
The result can be compared to breathing in a very strong fragrance, like when standing for far too long in a room filled with vases with imperial lilies. One inevitably gets a dizzy spell – which is perhaps why Adam has chosen as closer the moving “Broken Open” and, as a bonus, the “2012” track “Time for Miracles,” yet another superbly crafted ballad. The final paradox is that, once the dizzy spell is gone, one inevitably wants to relive the album experience over and over again. If this is what one could describe a classic by, together with the richness of sounds, styles and the unmistakable display of utmost talent, then “For Your Entertainment” is a classic by all means.
Given the hype that Adam Lambert has been getting ever since before the American Idol finale, it’s wonderful to see that “For Your Entertainment,” his debut album, more than delivers. Comfortable with anything eccentric to borderline insane, this “true American Idol,” as some critics dare call him, proves that pop and mainstream music doesn’t necessarily have to mean overproduced, unnecessary and mediocre – and definitely not when Lambert’s fearlessness and talent come into play.
Critics lament that Adam Lambert was not allowed to showcase his amazing personality and style on “For Your Entertainment” because of the many collaborators he had to work with for it. This, in turn, leads to a certain sense of being overwhelmed halfway through the album, with the possibility of the listener finding it too much, the explosion of energy and sound too strong to handle. Still, it’s these “imperfections” that make “FYE” that much better and “real,” critics agree.
In very few words, Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment” is a must listen, even for those who do not find glam rock / electropop to their liking, just to be able, 10 or so years from now on, to say “I witnessed that historical moment in music when mainstream became something else.” Complex in sound and even more so in structure, Adam Lambert’s impressive vocals are the threads that hold “FYE” together in one astonishing piece.