What does a major singer do with a style designed for minor ones? A singular talent who got his break on a show crazy with copycats, Adam Lambert can deliver deftly idiosyncratic razzle-dazzle with an operatic intensity that would leave the average rocker gasping for air. Yet he presents it in dance-pop full of studio distractions that ordinarily disguise negligible talents whose greatest ability is looking good.
Expressing his individual inner self in a pop machine designed to flaunt the interchangeably anonymous is the challenge he faces on Trespassing, the follow-up to his 2009 debut For Your Entertainment. That’s also the subtext of the Pharrrell Williams-collaborated title track, which examines obstacles put in the path of outsiders whose destiny is the mainstream. Kindred infiltrators like Bruno Mars, Nile Rodgers and Sam Sparro help Lambert create a masculine, more aggressive variant on the techno-pop that’s typically a girl’s game. His virile voice doesn’t need all the processing it undergoes in “Never Close Our Eyes” and other singles, but the sonic fortification affirms Lambert can be as be as vocally androgynous as he wants to be and still sound Top 40-friendly. Nevertheless, it’s the slower, more sensual cuts like “Broken English” and “Outlaws of Love” that best showcase his inimitable wail. “They say we’ll rot in hell, well I don’t think we will,” he groans in the latter, leaving no doubt what’s on his mind.