Adam Lambert doesn’t cover Destiny’s Child on his new set Trespassing. But for some reason, something about the beat and the attitude of the album’s start reminds me of the gritty, swaggering ”Bootylicious,” the 11-year-old hit with the prominent ’80s-era Stevie Nicks sample. (Although the chorus of track two, ”Cuckoo,” echoes Quiet Riot’s 1983 hit ”Cum On Feel The Noize” – but that’s a topic for another day.)
”I don’t need no sympathy, I won’t cry and whine,” Lambert sasses on the title track. ”Life’s my light and liberty, and I shine when I wanna shine.”
”Read my lips, carefully, if you like what you see. Move, groove, prove you can hang with me,” Beyoncé and company could one-up, at a slightly faster pace.
In fact, the funky, Pharrell Williams-produced ”Trespassing” is a stadium-style fight song, and finds Lambert one-upping Madonna in successfully channeling Toni Basil’s ”Mickey,” but making it his own. In this case, Lambert is saying he can go wherever he sets his mind to go, ”No Trespassing” sign be damned.
And what do you know, he’s right.
After all, Lambert almost went all the way on American Idol. Though he didn’t technically come out until after his second-place finish on season eight – losing to milquetoast Kris Allen, who’s been all-but forgotten just three years later – anybody paying attention knew the flamboyant glam-rocker was gay all along.
And now, the 30-year-old has even bested season two Idol Clay Aiken – or for that matter Elton John and George Michael – to reportedly become the first out gay artist to have an album debut atop the Billboard Hot 200 album chart.
And sure enough, Trespassing is a move in the right direction for Lambert, a significant improvement over his brash, messy 2009 major-label debut For Your Entertainment. Lambert still overdoes it here and there, with melodramatic pop and his signature bombastic wailing. And he also shows himself a bit too enamored of today’s dance fad known by the name dubstep – or really, the Skrillex-popularized, mind-numbingly bad dubstep offshoot called brostep. But Lambert has toned down his most blustery antics, from outright shrieking to peeling electric guitars, to create an album of songs you’re happy to listen to repeatedly, with melodies and messages that resonate.
More than anything, Trespassing reflects the love that Lambert has found in his personal life in the past couple years. The winsome Bruno Mars-penned, Dr. Luke-produced first single ”Never Close Our Eyes” is a sweet electro-pop ditty about wanting to make a great night last forever, in the company of someone you want to grow old with.
The stronger, second half of the album is steeped in love balladry, but of a realistic, very adult bent. ”I can be obnoxious at times, but try and see my heart, ‘cuz I need you now,” Lambert sings on ”Better Than I Know Myself.”
”You’re gonna see things you might not wanna see,” he sings on ”Underneath.” ”[But] I don’t wanna hide any part of me from you.” On the affecting rock ballad ”Chokehold,” Lambert conveys commitment issues as he metaphorically tries to avoid getting caught in a lover’s chokehold. ”I keep running away…from you,” he sings. ”But I can’t stand breaking the chains…It’s too good.”
Trespassing‘s most adventurous, accomplished song is the slow, somewhat menacing ballad ”Broken English.” Each line in the chorus ends in three brostep twitches – but it works here, because the effect is subtle, not showy, and because it matches the lyrical content. ”I know, now your body language is bro-ken, bro-ken Eng-a-lish.” And then there’s a sweet, wholly distinct bridge with Lambert singing a short, wordless aria, operatic style.
Sometimes, you like someone or something better than words can express. Or at least better than you thought you would.
Turns out, to turn the ”Bootylicious” phrase, we’re all ready for Lambert’s jelly.
Download These: ”Never Close Our Eyes,” ”Broken English,” ”Chokehold.”