Rating : A
Adam Lambert's Trespassing was the first album by an openly gay artist to debut at number one on the Billboard charts. That fact, both triumphant and sadly indicative of the slowly waning prejudices of the past, colors all of the songs in this spectacular pop album. The duality of the Lambert's open sexuality and his deserved success help charge these songs to transcend pop into a statement, both of Lambert's belief in the power of freedom of choice and the strength of unity forged on the dancefloor.
From the raucous, Queen-recalling, stomp-clap of the title track [Trespassing] to the dark, disco-funk of "Shady" to the skyrocketing, gut-punch chorus of midtempo killer "Better Than I Know Myself", producers' fingerprints are all over these songs. Pharrell's minimal, percussive touch on "Trespassing" (think, "Grindin'" by the Clipse...but switch out the cocaine-rapping for unstoppable, rock-tenor vocals), Nile Rodgers (of disco legends Chic!) adds a disco influence to "Shady" and Dr. Luke's "Better Than I Know Myself" would not sound out of place on a Katy Perry album. But that's ignoring a couple crucial facts. First, Lambert has developed a fiendish melodic touch as a writer and contributes executive production and co-writing credits to all tracks. And second, that voice.
And that voice indeed. Because honestly, from his days on Idol to his rushed, irregularly glammy first album...his voice, literally soars over all. His tender, falsetto start to ballad "Outlaws Of Love" is spun sugar, which slowly builds into crystalline, rock-candy wails by the end. And the songs lyrics ("Everywhere we go /We're lookin' for the sun /Nowhere to grow old/We're always on the run/They say we'll rot in Hell/But I don't think we will/ They've branded us enough/Outlaws of love) bravely stakes out Lambert's place as a stalwart, un-pushy, activist as well as a true-blue pop musician. And his voice, literally and metaphorically, is stronger than ever.
Key Tracks: Cuckoo (pop confection with a funky beat-breakdown in middle and a funny double entendre about a "straight jacket"), Outlaws Of Love (killer ballad that showcases his versatile voice and wrenching lyrics), Nirvana (a Zen-calm midtempo number with gorgeous vocal harmony), Runnin' (a pounding, sinister club thumper with some low (!) notes on the verses
Bottom Line: Well-crafted, thoughtful, hellishly catchy sophomore album with diversity and danceablity to spare.