“Hello… it’s me” – Not that anyone didn’t notice, but Adele is indeed back. After scoring one of the best selling albums with “21” (to be precise the best selling album of both 2011 and 2012 with over 30 Million sales) the stakes were quite high for the 27 year old English singer and songwriter.With the music industry mostly relying on streaming services, it wasn’t entirely clear if it would ever be possible for someone to top “21” in terms of actual album sales. But if anyone can do it then it’s Adele, right? Well, late November she dropped her latest album “25” and looking at the reception of the album proves that Adele is here to stay, no matter how long she takes a break from being a musician. Here’s my full review of Adele’s newest album.
The already somewhat iconic lead single of Adele’s “25”. “Hello” made quite the impact when it was released, as it broke several records including becoming the first song to sell over 1 Million within a week in the US, as well as breaking VEVO records (most views in 24 hours and fastest video to reach 100 Million views). “Hello” follows the same formula as a lot of other Adele songs – however, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the song is instantly recognizable alone from the instrumental. “Hello” is a piano ballad that follows a fairly simple, yet extremely effective chord progression. What makes this song impressive is how they managed to create a song that sounds huge without using a lot of instruments. In fact, the song basically consists out of a piano, a barely-noticeable string section in the background, some light percussion and of course Adele’s vocals. The song, even though it doesn’t feature many elements, was made with a lot of love for detail, especially when it comes to Adele’s vocals. It might not be the biggest show off for her vocals, but Adele uses what the public has grown to love about her: emotion and elegance. Lyrically the song is about love, regret and loss and relatable for all generations.
After the dramatic start with “Hello”, the album takes quite the turn with “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”. This song is possibly one of Adele’s most Pop friendly songs, which isn’t surprising considering it was produced by Pop Titan Max Martin. But even with Max Martin behind her back, Adele doesn’t go full-on generic pop. The song starts out with “Just the guitar okay cool…”, already promising the audience more of an acoustic based track. “Send My Love” is, especially for Adele standards, extremely fluffy (for the lack of a better word). Even though the audience appreciates Adele’s emotional side a lot, it’s songs like these that can make the difference in a perfect balancing of an album. “I Miss You” was produced by Paul Epworth, who also did “Rolling In The Deep” with Adele. Compared to Adele’s mega-smash from her previous album, “I Miss You” is a bit slower and focuses on a solid percussion rather than the sort of rhythmic piano arrangement that they used in “Rolling In The Deep”. “When We Were Young” then takes it down a notch, going back to a beautiful piano arrangement. The track has a special place on the album as THE one big ballad (next to Hello), a bit like Someone Like You was on 21. “Remedy” is another piano ballad, possibly the most stripped back song on 25. In fact, the song reminds a lot of “Turning Tables”, even though not quite as stunning as the latter it still delivers as a simple love song. Next to “Send My Love”, “Water Under The Bridge” is the other uptempo song on 25. Produced by the amazing Greg Kurstin (who also helped Adele on Hello), “Water” sounds a bit like a 80’s power ballad. The drums, claps, electric guitars and choirs in the background really turn the song in a pretty big stand out on Adele’s new album. The song moves along in a constant rhythm, maybe reminding a bit of “Rumour Has It” although “Water Under The Bridge” is a lot calmer. “If you’re gonna let me down, let me down gently, don’t pretend that you don’t want me, our love ain’t water under the bridge”. Despite its calm and cheerful arrangement, “Water Under The Bridge” is still your standard Adele song with lyrical deepness. “River Lea” is full of harmonies, choirs and organs playing in the background. River Lea falls off the radar easily as suffers from being right after the strong “Water Under The Bridge” in the tracklist and it could possibly be considered as an album filler. “Love In The Dark” is another piano ballad, however this one might be the most emotion packed track on the album. As always Adele’s vocals are top notch and the lyrics are deep but “Love In The Dark” stands out with its incredible instrumental, as it uses an entire string section along to the piano arrangement. “Million Years Ago” is all about giving the audience a feeling for nostalgia. The song itself is a guitar based ballad, next to “Remedy” one of the least touched songs on 25. Even though i can’t deny the beauty of Adele being accompanied by a guitar only, Million Years Ago does feel like a filler on 25. The next track “All I Ask” was co-written by Bruno Mars. While it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, its lyrical composition is quite amazing. Not to mention the key change during the last chorus. With “Sweetest Devotion” Adele delivers another track that sounds more like a live recording rather than a studio recorded song. The way all of the instruments sound unedited and clear can even make us feel like we’re at an Adele concert. Sweetest Devotion is a nice finish for the album, as it proves once again that Adele does not only do well on ballads.
Is 25 better than 21? I don’t know. What I do know is that no matter what age you are, this album has something for everyone. It has heartbreak, sad, happy, sassy… On the negative side, there are indeed a bit too many ballads on this album, though we can definitely tell they are Adele’s strength. It also feels like a “Rolling In The Deep” type of song is missing on this one. But all in all, this album is a great 8/10 with minor negatives in terms of album diversity but a lot of plus points in terms of musical and lyrical composition.