A trove of surprises unlike many an American Idol-affiliated effort.
Mike Diver 2010
In black and white terms, there are two types of X Factor/American Idol artist: those who hit and those who miss. Adam Lambert, runner-up on the 2009 series of Idol, has the temerity to dance in the greyscale between these extremes. At the time of writing he’s largely unproven in the UK, but seems doggedly determined to circumnavigate the compositional clichés of most Simon Cowell-affiliated acts. Ergo: if it’s lung-busting ballads and high-tempo RnB you’re after, listen elsewhere.
For Your Entertainment – a number three record in the US, and expanded with five additional tracks for its UK release – finds the patently gifted vocalist collaborating with an assembled cast guaranteed to make every other reality show starlet green with envy. Rob Cavallo acts as producer on several songs – that’s Rob Cavallo of Paramore, Green Day and Avril Lavinge fame (and, ahem, Paris Hilton) – and writers include Matt Bellamy of Muse, Pink, Linda Perry, Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, Justin Hawkins (The Darkness, remember?) and Lady Gaga. Yep, The Most Notorious Pop Sensation Since Madonna contributes Fever, all sass and fizz and pop and sizzle, like Mika taken hostage by the Scissor Sisters and given a dressing up.
The Tedder-penned tracks are obvious from their first processed drum beats, but there’s a solidity to Sleepwalker that’s comparable to Keane’s commendable consistency, while Lambert co-write Aftermath is a gently rousing rocker that Tom Chaplin would be proud to call his own. Similarly eager to tightrope-walk across the blurry rock and pop divide is boisterous bonus number Time For Miracles – think a post-op Leona Lewis possessed by the spirit of Bon Scott – and Music Again, which features the unmistakeable glam-stomp touch of Hawkins. It hovers around Queen’s histrionics, but the Bellamy-written Soaked drives straight into the heart of a Freddie Mercury show-stopper, with Eastern vibes and dramatic strings that wouldn’t sound out of place on Muse’s latest opus of interstellar indulgence. Broken Open is a glitch-riddled closer proper that comes across like an effective Idol adaptation of Thom Yorke traits.
For Your Entertainment has its moments of misery – Sure Fire Winners is an uncomfortable slice of misjudged braggadocio, and Master Plan sounds like the soundtrack to a cola brand ad – but for the most part this is a trove of surprises. And that nothing sounds like an obvious hit single only adds to its appeal.