By Liam Shaw
To say that Adele’s new album is highly anticipated feels like an understatement at this point. Her last record, 21, is the best selling album of the 21st century by a large margin and even Adele herself has acknowledged that any album that comes after 21 will always be its successor, whether it be her 3rd, 4th or 5th, the comparisons will be inevitable. Even so, with her latest album, Adele has proven she has not lost her touch. Identifying this album as a “make-up record” rather than a “break-up record”, she moves away from the bitterness and heartache conveyed in 21, instead opting for a more upbeat sound, even at her most seemingly melancholy.
There are a variety of themes explored in 25, while 21 was about breaking up and trying to move on, 25 explores what happens after that healing process and proves to be a lot more self-reflective, tackling themes like nostalgia, love (of course) and motherhood. As a result, what Adele has created is a much more refined, classy and mature record while still allowing for sassy detours like ‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’, which is perhaps the most ‘pop-sounding’ song she has ever written, but is nevertheless a welcome presence in a sea of ballads. Despite releasing ‘Hello’ as a single it is neither the strongest nor the best-written track on the album. That honour would have to go to ‘When We Were Young’, where Adele reflects on cherishing precious moments in a relationship.
Adele is definitely at her best when she is at her most self-reflective, illustrating this with the ballad ‘Million Years Ago’ – the ‘Someone Like You’ of the album in which the sorrowful piano is replaced with a nostalgic guitar, giving the song a more optimistic quality as Adele sings about losing a connection to loved ones from the past and an acceptance of how her “life is flashing by.” With the song ‘Sweetest Devotion’, the album reaches a gratifying conclusion. Adele sings of her son and coming to terms with motherhood, bringing everything full-circle in an almost uncharacteristically joyful and uplifting way. While 21 ended with Adele looking to the future with an uncertain regret, ‘Sweetest Devotion’ sees Adele at her most empowered and inspired.
None of these tracks could possibly have the effect they do without Adele’s stunning vocals leading the way. Her soulful voice gives off incredible warmth and she retains a lot of the character that makes her music so emotive. ‘All I Ask’ sees Adele at her most vocally impressive. It is a diva song through and through, and honestly the first real one for a long time, giving Adele the chance to show off what she can really do with her voice.
25 marks a glorious return for the singer after a long wait. It is perhaps less accessible overall than her previous effort, a few songs definitely need to grow on you, but once they do it is hard not to be completely enamoured with this album.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’).appendChild(s);