Adele - 25
by Harry Williams, Finn Dickinson, Oliver Rose, Srinandini Mukherjee
It all seems a bit familiar doesn’t it? Even the poses on the album covers look like a flipbook; how much is Adele really going to change? To be fair, Adele’s age-named albums are finally starting to make sense. In 25, it seems more complex emotions are explored than the down-the-line heartbreak of Someone Like You or Set Fire To The Rain or any other past Adele song really. In Hello she seems to miss being wanted by someone rather than straightforwardly heart-broken, and lyrics such as “it’s typical of me to talk about myself, I’m sorry” reveal a new, self-aware Adele, conscious of her maturity.
I’m excited for Adele’s ninth studio album 75 where, in the twilight of her life, she has her fifth consecutive existential crisis, with depth and profundity that would make Aristotle spin in his toga. And of course I mean Max Martin, Adele’s writer, a man who doesn’t need to have epiphanies seeing as he’s been raking it in writing the same party/love song for every pop sensation since N-Sync.
Still, 25 is Adele’s best album to date. While it’s just a bit more of the same, thankfully the same is pretty good. She has caught some flack for slightly safe, flat production; this is because the focal point, rightly, is always her voice, which is still the best around by far.
Picks: Hello, When We Were Young, Water Under The Bridge
Adele’s return to music has been a pretty triumphant one. Say what you like about the singer-songwriter, but she may well be the only person who could steal the spotlight away from Justin Bieber’s return, and is probably the only English singer who could, this year, put out what is now the fastest-selling album in British music history. Music aside, 25 is already an impressive album.
As for the actual music, one of this album’s finest traits is its relative exploration of new ground, compared to its predecessors. Much like her fellow mononymous pop/soul singer Beyoncé, Adele isn’t afraid to traverse new auditory terrain. She drifts from the breezy Send My Love (To Your New Lover) to the tender lament of Love In The Dark with relative ease and comfort both for her and for the listener. Serendipitously, the LP’s more emotional tracks seldom exhibit qualities of mawkishness – a tendency which I feel was very much present on her previous albums.
Adele still has a way to go before she can become, in my opinion, as truly wonderful as a great deal of people think she is. For one thing, I must say it’s disappointing that she hasn’t ended what I feel to be a considerable over-reliance on co-writers. Although she hasn’t come anywhere near to the apparent inability to write one’s own songs that One Direction suffer from, this is still not ideal for a musician. Regardless, this is a highly laudable album. If you’ve ever disregarded Adele on the basis of her massive popularity or her leaning towards pop music, you’re missing out on a hell of a lot of good stuff.
Picks: When We Were Young, River Lea, Million Years Ago
25is everything that Radio 2 listeners want it to be. Brimming with inoffensive, conventional melodies and illustriously intoned metaphors, it’s not bad, but it’ll hardly make you sit up.
Massive praise has rained down on this album, and Adele seems to have overshadowed every other instance of artistic femininity this year. Adele’s voice, though sterling aurally, has little, if anything, new to say – despite her protestations that 25marks a new, happier chapter in her life, the very familiar piano-led hits-to-be on this LP have a lyrically inarticulate, mournful tone, exacerbated by the artwork: a low-lit portrait of the singer, vacuous in expression as though lost or bemused.
The credits are irritating too_ – _Adele, for all her vocal brilliance, is, as-ever, merely a co-writer. This isn’t a problem as such, but it ought certainly to be an objective detractor from the lionizing she will undeniably receive for the entirety of this album. Worse is that these tracks aren’t even close to the _huge ballads from 21, _a record whose dramatic immensity, by comparison, outweighed its unoriginality.
My biggest gripe with 25 however, is the abandonment of streaming platforms – it’s an unforgivably voracious move for an artist who was, lest we forget, a product of MySpace commerce, and a cynical money-grabbing measure that leaves a sour taste in my already dry mouth. I certainly don’t think it’s a very considerate gesture from someone who seems almost _endlessly _hung up about the way they’ve been treated.
Picks: Hello, When We Were Young, Remedy
I enjoyed Hello greatly when it took the world by storm a little over a month ago, and it made me both excited and tentative about reviewing 25; excited because it reminded me why Adele had succeeded in the music industry, tentative because I was hoping I wouldn’t have to listen to eleven bittersweet tracks about separation and loss.
I was partially right; most of the songs in Adele’s latest album maintain her traditional style: powerful, emotional ballads about partings. This definitely causes the album to lack variety, however, Adele’s exceptionally compassionate lyrics must be mentioned here. One skill most pop artists lack nowadays is the ability to combine the more easily found catchy tunes with profound lyrics. On 25, much like on 19, Adele proves to be an exception. On more than one occasion, I found myself wondering how a lyric had so accurately summed up something I feel, or had once felt.
Certain songs stand out despite the similar themes: Love In The Dark is a beautiful track which highlights the pain of being the one ending a relationship and makes a great use of the violin, All I Ask voices the fear of an inevitable end to an undefined romantic bond with truly empathetic lyrics – “So why don’t we just play pretend / Like we’re not scared of what is coming next or scared of having nothing left?” is a personal favourite. In a predominantly heartbreak-filled album, Remedy must be commended for its slightly more optimistic portrayal of love, as well as its catchy tune.
Overall, this is definitely a very impressive album for Adele to add to her already successful repertoire. While I can’t quite see her as versatile enough to sing a more upbeat, cheery pop single yet, I definitely succumbed to the stereotype and shed some tears while listening to 25.
Picks: Hello, Remedy, Love in the Dark