Thursday, November 19, 2015

Album Review :: Adele - 25



November 20 2015 (XL)


Words: Alison Mack

So, Adele Adkins is back with her much discussed, multi-rumoured and long-awaited third album. And if second works as the notorious bĂȘte noire of many artists, think what 27-year-old Londoner Adele must have gone through to come up with something to better her 2011 album, ‘21’ - one of the best-selling albums of all time, and the fourth ranked in UK chart history.

So is '25' up to the same calibre as its predecessor and debut '19'? There is certainly enough here to please fans, and undoubtedly win more, even if perhaps it does stick to the AA try-and-tested (and let's not forget, winning: '25' is already on the way to platinum before it's even released) format. There are no big ball-busters and nothing seriously challenging, and while much is fairly predictable across the 11-track set, which range from brooding ballads to gospel-infused grooves, her emotive vocal rendering is polished and impressive.

Hello” is the big tear-jerker kick-off featuring sombre piano chords and big soaring chorus that leads through a carefully-modulated build-up to an emotional finale. The fastest-selling single in almost two decades, the ballad has sold a whopping 480K digital copies in America in just three weeks

It’s the first of three tracks produced by Greg Kurstin, along with 'Water Under The Bridge' and 'Million Years Ago'. The former utilises a similar swathe of expansive sound and flows like its title suggests; while on the latter, shimmering mid-tempo pop keys abound as the singer asks that, "if you're going to let me down / let me down gently" over a biting melody that captures the bittersweet memories of growing up in south London and the yearning to return for one more day to the past.

The past is also reflected in 'When We Were Young', the track co-written with Tobias Jesso Jr. It's a reflective track that opines moments to be treasured for the years ahead to look back on. "You look like a movie / you sound like a song / My god this reminds me / Of when we were young."

The Danger Mouse-produced 'River Lea' is a gospel-tinged, R&B moody number that is an album highlight. “When I was a child I grew up by the River Lea / There was something in the water / and now that something’s in me,” she admits, reflecting on her Tottenham birthplace and the surrounding areas of Walthamstow and Chingford. Over a rousing, bluesy backdrop, she adds: "It's in my roots / it's in my veins / in my blood / and it stains / every heart that I used to heal the pain."

'Send My Love (To Your New Lover)' partners Adele with Swedish producer Max Martin (who has worked with Britney Spears and Taylor Swift), and together they achieve something different to the main body of the record, with Adele putting the 'p' in pop, as a lively chorus hops around with handclaps and plucked guitar.

'I Miss You' is one of two tracks co-written with producer Paul Epworth, and sees the atmospheric duality of percussion and drums create an almost canticle-like effect, which suits the intimate lyrics that ricochet over beats and a keys: "Pull me in / hold me tight / don't let go, baby / give me life,"

The '25' closer is the other Epworth collaboration: 'Sweetest Devotion'. It's a lavish, upswept song to her infant son, and makes for a perfect end to, if not quite a perfect album as such, it is most definitely one that will stand the test of time in quality.

1 comment:

  1. The first three songs on 25 are my favorites and it's tough for me not to repeat these tracks. But the more I listen to the entire album the more my mind begins to change.