Lambert’s second album is as slick and danceable an album as one can expect from the glam-pop star. And at times that can be a problem.
Perhaps either we’re expecting too much or waiting for Lambert to make his I’m-going-to-be-here-for-a-while artistic statement. But right now, he’s treading the same super-synthetic electro-pop waters of artists like Katy Perry and Rihanna. And it’s a great formula for Lambert, especially on catchier songs like “Cuckoo,” “Pop That Lock” and “Kickin’ It,” which have a euro-pop swagger reminiscent of George Michael or Robbie Williams and a touch of dubstep. Moodier songs “Broken English” and “Chokehold” have a pleasantly dark and sinister vibe that give Lambert’s dramatic vocals an edgier playground in which to frolic.
It’s when Lambert shifts into more complex songwriting mode that the sonic artifice shows its limitations: The processed beats and instrumentation pull the teeth out of the songs that try to be more dynamic, such as “Better Than I Know Myself” and “Never Close Our Eyes.” But there is analog magic to be found on the Radiohead-ish alt-rock of “Outlaws of Love.”
“Trespassing” is solid — but we’re hoping to see Lambert take some artistic risks on future albums.
Dee Does Broadway
Snider Than Thou
Heavy metal and Broadway aren’t as strange of bedfellows as one might think, considering hard-rock singers such as Sebastian Bach have starred in Broadway musicals and the popularity of productions like “Rock of Ages.”
Now Twisted Sister’s Snider is getting in on the action. And considering how much make-up he wore in his tenure with the outrageous rock band, it shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise.
This is definitely more hard-rock record than Broadway record, as Snider gives these standards a muscular rock makeover with loud guitars and drums.
Some songs work better than others, especially “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” and “I Get a Kick Out of You,” which were dark and bombastic to start: Snarling guitars, relentless drums and rough rock vocals aren’t that big of a stretch for them.
Snider’s voice doesn’t take to show tunes well — as evidenced on the jazzier parts of some songs — but he eventually steers the songs in a rock direction.
The best moments on the album come when Snider brings in guest stars with the chops to add something special. Cyndi Lauper injects some much needed fun and sass to a rocking version of “Big Spender.” Bebe Neuwirth lends a feline charm to a rather heavy version of “Whatever Lola Wants.” Clay Aiken kind of shows Snider up and blows the doors off a rollicking version of “Luck Be a Lady.” Patti Lupone is absolutely majestic on “Tonight/Somewhere.”
Whether or not you think Broadway and hard rock go together, you can’t deny it: “Dee Does Broadway” has too many fun and interesting moments to ignore.
A Joyful Noise
This album is stunningly good, even for a band that is known for making brilliant artistic leaps from album to album.
Continuing to seamlessly blend musical styles and expertly utilize the talents of out singer Beth Ditto, “A Joyful Noise” is a beautifully lush convergence of punk, pop, dance, alternative-rock and electronic influences.
This album seems to have it all. There are dark and sexy songs (“Melody Emergency,” “Into the Wild”), soaring, atmospheric alt-rock (“Perfect World”), somber introspection (“Casualties of War”), flamboyant dance music (“Get Lost,” “I Won’t Play”) and a nod to the band’s new wave/punk-ish roots (“Get a Job,” “Move in the Right Direction”).
The fact that they can incorporate all of these styles and still sound awesome and authentic speaks volumes. “A Joyful Noise” is aptly named.