Album review: Adele – 25
25 is about getting to know who I’ve become without realising it. And I’m sorry it took so long, but you know, life happened.
After a three-year hiatus from the music scene, you know, doing life, the Rolling in the Deep diva has returned with her third album – the highly anticipated 25.
25 is threaded with Adele’s trademark understanding of love and heartbreak but is rich with a maturity, reflection and resolution absent in her previous records.
As Adele describes it: “My last record was a break-up record. If I had to label this one I would call it a make-up record.”
The 11-track anthology begins with the ubiquitous Hello – a fitting song for anyone longing to reacquaint with an old friend, whether it be an ex, a childhood pal, or a renowned songstress reintroducing herself to her fans. The piece has an immediate memorable quality with its catchy chorus and sombre exploration of the past and present. The instrumentation is misty with ambience and dominated by Adele’s strong belt and the occasional falsetto flick. Hello sets the bar high.
Send My Love (To your new lover) is about letting go of an ex and taking the high road with a hint of ‘go to hell’. The up-tempo track is centred on a guitar-plucking rift and backed up by an island-rhythmic beat. This song was co-written and produced by Max Martin – the man behind I Knew You Were Trouble and Shake it Off by Taylor Swift.
Listening to torch ballad When We Were Young feels like flicking through a dusty old photo album and wondering ‘what if?’ The nostalgic track is the second single from 25 and has been aptly described as the sequel to Hello.
I Miss You may surprise fans as it steers away from Adele’s usual repertoire of subjects. With a dubstep beat and a contemporary dance feel, this smouldering jam is pure tension and magnetism. Definitely a track for when you’ve invited someone special to stay the night.
River Lea was inspired by a North London river where Adele spent her early childhood. The gospel-influenced track includes an organ, choir-like backing vocals, plenty of ambience and unforgettable lyrics that are sung like a personal anthem:
It’s in my roots, it’s in my veins, it’s in my blood and I stain / every heart that I use to heal the pain / so I blame it on the River Lea.
Of course this wouldn’t be Adele without ballads of love lost. There are several tear inducing songs including Remedy, co-written by One Republic frontman Ryan Tedder and All I Ask co-written by Bruno Mars.
After five consecutive heartbreakers, the album ends on a triumphant, uplifting note with Sweetest Devotion. Adele wrote this for her three year-old son Angelo, who can be heard at the beginning and end of the song. Adele has clearly received her happy ending through him. Perhaps this is a sign that more optimistic songs are coming in the future.
25 is a story, a counsellor and a close friend on a really bad day. It shows growth and understanding with the quintessential make-up that is Adele. The album is proof that no matter how long her absence from the music industry, the woman’s still got it.