During his run as an American Idol contestant, camp theatrics and gratuitous glam were important weapons in Adam Lambert’s arsenal: stratospheric vocal runs, flamboyant costumes, stage-lighting fusillades. This out-and-proud rocker’s weekly re-invigoration of the hoariest standards was nothing short of awe-inspiring. So it’s hardly shocking that For Your Entertainment plays like a gender-bent hit parade, celebrating Lambert’s performance personae while saluting the pop prerogative of co-songwriters/producers like Pink, Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, the Darkness’s Justin Hawkins, Lady Gaga, and Max Martin.
Everything is on the table: stirring-despite-itself MOR tear-jerkery (“Time for Miracles”), Elton John-maudlin, California-comedown weariness (“Soaked”), trippy space-rock operatics (“A Loaded Smile”), and hard, fake Queen destined to supplant Kevin Rudolf’s “Let It Rock” as sports-arena fist-pimping anthems (“Music Again,” “Sure Fire Winners”). On “Broken Open,” Lambert revisits the sumptuous, buttery croon he nailed while covering Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” on Idol. Inspiring and varied, Entertainment nonetheless loses points for playing it a bit too safe. — Ray Cummings
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