Adele – [Album]

Adele – [Album]

Monday, 21 December 2015

ARTIST: Adele – DATE: 12-20-15
LABEL: XL Recordings/Beggars Group


There’s no other way to say it: Adele is the rightful queen of pop in 2015. Now three albums into her career, she has set and broken records with an ease which is almost comical, and done it with raw talent – not using salesmanship or clever gimmickry. Her third album, 25, continues in that tradition for the most part but, now, the singer has clearly lay down childish complaints, made peace with some of those who did her wrong and has begun to find a way to start life over again.

Where exactly the album is headed and how it will get there is laid out pretty clearly as soon as “Hello” opens the proceedings. There, listeners are presented with a figure who has already been beaten down by love, but lived through the assault and returned to face that guilty party. Listeners will really be able to feel where Adele’s head is here; those who have been put through the emotional wringer after a relationship has ended know the words that Adele will lead with (“Hello, it’s me/ I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet/ To go over everything/ They say life’s supposed to heal ya/ But I ain’t done much healing”) and can likely recite some of them without ever having heard the song before. Why? Because they’ve already thought them before – in a failed relationship gone by. In that regard, what’s here in “Hello” is not new, but it feels good to know they’re not alone, and that’s how listeners will be inspired to come aboard.

There’s no question that “Hello” is heartbroken but, after the song ends, a sort of healing process has begun. It is not quick – there is no sudden or ridiculous jump to sugary pop because “everything’s all better now” – it’s a process, but it’s a rewarding one.

The energy level about 25 does go up a bit, but in a sort of unusual way, when “Send My Love To Your New Lover” drifts out easily – in perfect contrast to the sentiments contained in the song’s lyric sheet. There’s an almost nimble tone about the guitar performance here as it skips along near-jubilantly and presents the difference from lines like “Send my love to your new lover/ Treat her better/ We’ve gotta let go of all of our ghosts/ We both know we ain’t kids no more” in a manner which simultaneously condemns the character that Adele created as well as betraying some self-loathing at how the situation is affecting her. That sense carries over into “I Miss You” too, but actually gets a little darker as the music declines into a tone which could almost be called a drone, and Adele’s voice becomes a morose, heart-rending plea.

As the record progresses, it never quite exits the introspective, self-critical space it started in but, eventually, listeners will see that salvation exists in these climes courtesy of Adele’s own voice, which never falters and always sees the singer standing tall – even if she doesn’t seem to have completely left unscathed at the end of every track. Particular standout songs like “River Lea,” the very Edith Piaf-esque “Million Years Ago” and “All I Ask” straddle a treacherous line between resignation and a heartwarming sense of “survival after it all” and will hold listeners dearly through every turn, but also leave them craving more as well. That is not to say that it’s always easy to hear (some listeners won’t be able to stop themselves from cringing as lyrics like “If this is my last night with you/ Hold me like I’m more than just a friend/ Give me a memory I can use/ Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends/ Cause what if I never love again?” hit them because they’re overwrought and might just hit a little to close to correct and heartfelt too), but some critics would argue that that’s how one knows it’s brilliant: it might not be easy to hear, but it’s still profoundly affecting.

…And, just like that, it’s over. Listeners will find that, even if they knew the end was near when “All I Ask” met them, they’ll still be stunned by the silence which follows after the end of the song. Many will desperately hit play again because either the record won’t feel like it’s finished or listeners won’t feel as though they’re finished with it quite yet. They’ll find they need more because 25 has utterly moved them. The candor or the album and Adele’s unflinching desire to share it is hypnotizing and profoundly affecting; it’ll have listeners won and held even tighter than the singer had them before. It’s incredible and beautiful and mesmerizing.

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