Producer: Greg Kurstin, Paul Epworth
Released: 20 November, 2015
If there’s ever been a person who needs no introduction featured on this two weeks old blog, it’s Adele; her breakthrough album 21 received a truckload of Grammies and the album has become not only the most sold album in Britain in the history of recorded music, but also one of the best-selling albums of all time. There are very few people on this planet who have not heard “Rolling in the Deep” or “Someone Like You”. And afterwards she went and won herself an Oscar too. Whatever she would do next would have absolutely ridiculous expectations to live up. So why bother, right?
So, her new album 25, or the newest entry in her album series I like to call “You’re Roughly the Same Age, What Have You Done With Your Life?”, she wouldn’t need to show any sort of effort whatsoever and still outsell anything else this year just with the power of traction. The bombastic lead single “Hello” proved that already: while the song made out of all the familiar building blocks that every Adele hit uses, it became the first song in the US to sell over one million digital copies on its first week, just for being an Adele single.
After the explosion of “Hello” Adele was at risk that the rest of the album would just become quiet ringing in the listener’s ears. Fortunately she didn’t go the easy route: Adele herself has described the album as a ‘make-up’ album as opposed to her previous break-up record, which is incredibly refreshing. We need more songs like “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”, where instead of undeservedly spewing fire and brimstone on her ex’s new lover Adele says that we’re all adults here and it’s better to move on than just endlessly wallow in self-pity. In addition of the subject matter she has also progressed musically: in contrast to her previous sound based mainly on the soul music of 60s, 25 contains more electronic elements of 80s R&B. “Water Under the Bridge” sounds like a mixture of Culture Club and massive gospel choruses reminiscent of Florence + the Machine. Even though the lion’s share of the album’s runtime is devoted to ballads, none of the tracks feels superfluous: most incredibly Adele can make what feels like three dozen piano ballads stand out from each other in terms of both the music and the lyrics. The final track, the bombastic and waltzing “Sweetest Devotion” works great as a guitar-driven, uplifting counterpart to the dramatic and somber “Hello”, forming beautiful musical bookends.
25 is everything we’ve previously come to expect from Adele: grandiose ballads, larger-than-life emotions and an amazing voice capable of effortlessly conveying those emotions. It’s a nice change of pace to see a mainstream Top 40 artist doing something that seems so natural, genuine and effortless instead of something pumped out straight from assembly line.