Lady Gaga: The Fame

B-

Lady Gaga

Album: The Fame
Label: Interscope

"Fame, doing it for the fame / 'Cause we got a taste for champagne and endless fortune." So goes the chorus of the title track of Lady Gaga's The Fame, handily summarizing the celebration of shallow club culture that pervades the record. But while Gaga's synth-addled songs are at their core an inspiration to, as the leadoff single puts it, "Just Dance," lyrics like "What's going on on the floor? / I love this record, baby but I can't see straight anymore" suggest that, though her feet may be dancing, her tongue is at least partially in cheek. Self-awareness aside, though, The Fame is more concerned with escapism than commentary. Propulsive club anthems like "LoveGame" and "Beautiful Dirty Rich" chug along on wave after wave of synths and programmed drums, resulting in a dizzying sonic trip that approximates the high point of a chemically enhanced night of club-hopping. But as with a long night on the dance floor, things can blur together after a while, and Lady Gaga's handbag of tricks proves a tad small. The greatest weakness is the singer-slash-performance-artist's limited vocal range. Gaga seems to have spent more time cultivating her sequin-bedecked stage persona than her singing, which mostly splits time between a sassy, Gwen Stefani-like speak-sing and a thoroughly Auto-Tuned R&B; croon. Scaled-back tracks like "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" and the dreadful "Brown Eyes" are done no favors by Gaga's limited pipes; luckily, the majority of the album is fueled by a glitter-laced, dance-inciting energy that bodes well for extended club play, which is really the whole point.