Adam Lambert said in an interview that with “The Original High” he wanted to be more restrained than on his previous two albums and unfortunately, for him and his listeners, he succeeded.
The best thing about “For Your Entertainment” was how brazen and bold the whole thing was from the visuals, to the songs to the performances. Adam went there in every single aspect and showed absolutely zero fear. Yeah, it was a little bit all over the place, but this was his first album post-Idol and he was still figuring out who he was as an artist and as a person. Trespassing was much more cohesive. I wouldn’t say restrained, just refined. It aimed for a particular pop-funk sound and it felt very much like a good place for Adam to sit in his artistry. Adam executive-produced Trespassing and it showed, it felt authentically him and he took listeners along for the ride on his progression as an artist. There was still the in-your-face flamboyancy of “For Your Entertainment” but alongside more serious, settled elements.
When Adam said that “The Original High” was more restrained than his previous efforts I didn’t really know what that meant, it flew over my head. Listening to the album however I figured out exactly what it meant – that there was much less Adam Lambert and much more puppetry going on.
Max Martin and Shellback executive-produced this album and honestly the overall impression I get is that they essentially used Adam’s album as a playground to dabble in the 90s house style of music that Adam expressed interest in and that the album is infused with.
Listening to the album as a whole it’s hard to pick out any high moments because they all kind of blend into each other. There’s no songs that stand out as being exceptionally exciting, which honestly most songs on his first two efforts do. It is telling that of the few exciting moments on the album one of them is “Rumours” which features Tove Lo – it took someone else to spice things up a bit.
That’s not to say that the album isn’t good and that there aren’t good songs. Obviously Ghost Town is great, but once put in context with all of these other songs it loses it’s punch because everything becomes very same-same. Evil in the Night is probably the highlight of the album for me, mostly because the lyrics of the song are immediately impactful, “Razor blade lips and daggers up in your eyes” “bombs over broadway, fire in the sky” but interestingly enough Adam isn’t actually credited as a writer on the song so I can’t even credit him for that.
What Adam has done by restraining himself is taken himself out of the equation of his own music. On his previous albums if the music and production weren’t great his endless personality more than made up for it. It feels like less of himself has been injected into this album and with other producers arguably doing the 90s house revival better than Max Martin and Shellback there is little left to be excited about. He might as well have done the 80s covers album RCA wanted him to do because at least then he would have been singing songs that have already proven themselves to have a point of exciting difference.
Adam can and has done so much better, what he’s failed to do with “The Original High” is dig out a niche for himself in pop music. Instead he blindly followed current trends, allowed Max Martin and shellback to whitewash the album instead of having the variety of producers and writers he had on Trespassing, and didn’t allow his own personality – his greatest asset alongside his voice – to infect every song of the album. It’s only disappointing because Adam has so much more potential, if a new artist that I knew nothing about had recorded “The Original High” I would probably be raving about how great they and the album are, but I’ve set my standards for Mr. Lambert far higher and he has not reached them with this album.