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CD Review

Adam Lambert: For Your Entertainment

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / November 24, 2009

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Adam Lambert was commended for knowing who he was while competing on “American Idol.’’ The eighth-season runner-up might want to let his handlers in on it. From his provocative performance on the “American Music Awards’’ Sunday night to the album-by-committee feel of his debut, his musical identity isn’t completely clear.

For pop fans that committee is a blue-ribbon panel that includes Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, Lady Gaga, Green Day producer Rob Cavallo, and Swedish mastermind Max Martin among many others. Each member contributes his or her expertise, but no one seems concerned if it all fits together.

A week passed between Lambert’s chameleonic performances on “Idol.’’ On “For Your Entertainment’’ the pauses are about five seconds. That may not be enough time to adjust from the subpar retro metal of opener “Music Again’’ to the less-than-compelling wink-wink, Britney-evoking throb-pop of the title track. Or maybe it’s just that some of the songs aren’t that compelling regardless of genre or pedigree.

The least famous names here contribute the album’s catchiest, cheekiest song, “Sure Fire Winners,’’ which sounds like Warrant’s raunch metal anthem “Cherry Pie’’ stripped naked and redressed by Gaga. “Fever,’’ actually co-written by the Lady, makes a convincing case for Lambert as a long-lost Scissor Sister with its eruptive synths. Matthew Bellamy of Muse contributes the high-drama ballad “Soaker,’’ on which the singer merges his love for Freddie Mercury, Thom Yorke, and overdoing it to gorgeously windswept results.

Lambert’s got the goods to sell a lot of styles, but the songs don’t always showcase those goods in the best light.