3 Years after the release of his last album “Trespassing”, the American Idol runner up decided to release new music. “Trespassing” set the bar quite high for this album, but “The Original High” definitely delivered.
After creative differences with his label and disappearing for a while, Adam Lambert comes back with pop staples producers such as Max Martin, Shellback, Savan Kotecha and Ali Payami. It is thus not very surprising that this album is indeed very pop. However it’s not what you might expect. Nowadays, when people think about “Pop”, they think about light, fun, upbeat songs that are easy to sing along. While this is true in a lot of the cases, there’s other examples of “Pop gone right”. “The Original High” is one of those cases.
Starting off with “Ghost Town“, the listener quite easily learns about the general tone of this album. It’s Pop, it’s dark, it’s haunting, it’s catchy, it’s Adam Lambert. And if there’s Adam Lambert, it’s bound to have its own uniqueness. Ghost Town definitely delivers in that departement. Starting off with Adam singing the verses over a simple guitar arrangement, the song quickly goes from a simple song to a song with a lot of different layers in its production. Sometimes Pop music can be extremely overproduced, and while this is also a rather heavy track, the production is so unique and fitting to Adam’s vocals.
The album continues on a similar note with “The Original High“. While Ghost Town was produced by the man Max Martin himself, the album’s title track is a Shellback production. The Original High will serve as the album’s second single, and deservingly so. While not as unique as Ghost Town, this is even catchier, definitely something I can imagine being played on radio and in clubs. Everything about this song says “Pop” to me, from the catchy verses to the almost infectious chorus. But the song is not “just” pure pop, it has quite a disco feel to it and I can even see it sound great in an acoustic set up .
Next, “Another Lonely Night“, while still quite dark, is a bit more hopeful than Ghost Town sounded. It’s production is still quite similar to the two tracks before. “Underground” then takes a pretty drastic turn for the album in terms of production. The song is a RnB ballad with still quite the production on it, but definitely more stripped back than what we’ve heard so far. Even then, the song is incredibly dark and feels quite raw. “Cause nobody feels you like I do, Nobody kills me like you do, Nothing I take can ever cut through, I’m in trouble” The song was produced by Ali Payami, it reminds of a darker, male version of also Payami-produced Lea Michele song “Thousand Needles”. “There I Said It” is another ballad, which pretty much gets overshadowed by “Underground” in every way. That being said, it’s definitely not a bad song, but maybe there could have been a better place in the tracklist for this, rather than right after Underground. “Rumors (feat Tove Lo)” is a collaboration of “Habits” singer Tove Lo and Adam Lambert that might feel a bit random at first. Tove’s style works surprisingly well on this album though. Despite the collaboration, this track remains dark and fits perfectly on this album. “Evil In The Night” returns to an uptempo set up. As one of the strongest tracks on this album, the song mainly stands out by its lyrics. “My life flashed before my eyes, Razor blade lips and daggers up in your eyes, Baby, your love is a crime, Danger by day, but you’re evil in the night” Even though the song has the same feel as a lot of the other tracks on this album, the lyrics are what make this song stand out. Definitely one of the best songs on the album. “Lucy (feat Brian May)” is the only song on this album that reminds me more of Adam’s “Whataya Want From Me” days, with a production that leans towards something i would explain as modern Rock. You can definitely tell this is also a style that fits Lambert, maybe something he’s gonna want to go back to in future albums. “Things That I Didn’t Say” is another mid- or uptempo pop song with EDM elements. The song is quite nice though, not good enough to be first or second single, but I would definitely say it’s a stand out aswell. “The Light” then takes us to the dancefloor. With it being another dark pop anthem, I would say this song would be nothing without it’s outstanding production. The lyrics are quite forgettable actually, Adam’s vocals are good as always, but the thing that makes this song intriguing and interesting is the production. “Heavy Fire” closes out the album, however does seem more like a filler track. Again, strong elements in the song include its production and Adam Lambert’s vocals.
Final Score: 7/10
“The Original High” is a really solid Pop album. It’s extremely coherent with the Dark Pop sound throughout the entire album. This can be seen as positive and negative though, as on one hand it feels like a well themed album, on the other hand it’s not very balanced and there are too many midtempo dark/pop songs. The album’s biggest strength is definitely its production. Even though all of the songs have that Dark feel to them, the production on each song feels different (which is sometimes the only way to tell them apart because of how similar thematically, lyrically and vocally the songs are). Adam’s voice is another plus on this album. “Underground” is the best song on this album for me personally. It is slightly disappointing that they didn’t include any songs that are completely raw, maybe just Adam singing over a piano chord progression, but maybe that would ruin the album’s general feel.
Although “The Original High” had a lot more potential, it is still a great album for Adam Lambert and worth giving a shot. ESPECIALLY if you like Pop music with a twist!
What did you think of the album? Share your thoughts with me in the comment section below. If you have any requests for reviews you can write that down in a comment or hit me up on twitter @DawleyGaming or write an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and i will try to take your requests into consideration!