Adele – ’25’ Review

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

Dear Kelsey,

Adele broke fucking records. She busted the entire music industry wide open after Taylor Swift softly pierced the skin. Now she has control over when her album reaches the streaming world that other artists almost require to make a pitiful amount of money. Instead, she became a dictator and allowed the world to purchase the album because of the name. It really has become a popularity contest and even more so, people bought this record by it’s cover and what was on it before they even had a chance of knowing what was inside. Imagine my inner rage slowly build as I had to purchase this record just to even hear it in full, instead of streaming or having early access as most fans who actually invest in this industry do. Now the honest and broken method that the music I listen too is even more broken and dishonest. Regardless, you asked for my thoughts about the actual record, so here we go.

Adele is bold, I’ll give her that. She will now forever be remembered in history by her age at the time of recording each album. While this can be a wake up call – “holy shit she was 19 when she first started” – it also is a slap in the face. Here we have this powerful singer delivering the same booming choruses about the subject matter of 21 but now she has birthed a kid and is older. Shouldn’t the heartache of the previous boyfriend (“Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”) be negated since you know, she found hope and growth in her child? Didn’t an article just feature Adele saying she didn’t want to wallow in the past? 25 has that issue riding the surface, which is funny, because that shouldn’t even be an exact excuse to berate an artist about because I have this imaginary heartache I can’t rid of either. Maybe this just goes to show there really is no hope in the world if someone as gifted and starstruck and distant as Adele can’t write about it. Maybe I should end the search for the cause of my heartache now because when I turn 25 I’ll still be stuck trying to figure it out.

The singer has a talent for singing, you know that. Her voice has shaped the past five years of music but I didn’t have to tell you that. She has been pigeon holed into every corner of auditory sense it gives my dear friend Megan motion sickness just to hear her voice. And rightfully, it should. 25 is an album that possesses larger than life choruses that focus solely on her voice and it starts immediately with lead single and opener “Hello.” Her voice is larger than life here and her range is off the charts. After this we have a few stripped down songs that are enjoyable because of their simplicity. “I Miss You” is one example, having percussion instruments lead the entire song for Adele to amorphously sing over. It’s this newfound sense of rhythm that people can latch onto. On certain tracks Adele completely shied away from the piano melancholy that was 21 and instead fixated on making sure her voice is the sole sense of melody and harmony in these tracks. This, while showcasing her extreme talent, makes the tension in songs previous almost nonexistent. The piano heavy songs that feature a sonic style similar to what we heard on 21 are familiar and breath taking. We find Adele bellowing above the instrument but sometimes that is it; there’s rarely a tension release. Each song is her singing the entire time. What I love about a singer like Fiona Apple is her ability to let the music carry weight in songs, not selfishly controlling every audio space and second available through her voice. When there is an audio break, it’s rather cheap and quick, kind of like our coloring coffee dates. 

“River Lea” is one of my favorite tracks on this album. It is synth heavy and showcases Adele‘s masterful range weaving between a variety of melodies. A track like this has an entire audio space that is rich and vibrant with enough distracting beats, organs and even a guitar to keep the mind stimulated and not rolling through her deep (ha) vocals. It gives her prowess as a singer a new symphony to shine in. Closer “Sweetest Devotion” sounds like the hope inspired Adele I have been waiting for, and it’s a track like this that wants me to hear an entire album where she drops the heartache act and sings about what really is going on now instead of ahem, “not wallowing in the past.” Also worth mentioning is “Million Years Ago;” a ballad with delicate acoustic guitars winding behind Adele‘s dominant voice. 

In a way, 25 is a coherent journey. Starting from “Hello” we are introduced to Adele and her welcome back into the industry (that she has rightfully destroyed). Then, the next few songs discuss where she has been and then collapse in the rightfully titled “Water Under The Bridge.” The sonic atmosphere changes from this song on changes. The scope is more experimental and A.D.H.D. friendly. As the album comes to a close we feel a sense of her hope shining through the exotic beats and the finale of “Sweetest Devotion.” I figured it out, or you know, that was all made up just to try and put it into perspective that Adele would be able to conceptualize this. The only thing she conceptualized for me here was my love for not only you, but my honest love for the bands traveling the U.S. in vans and fighting through terrible road conditions to sing or scream or fight for their music to be streamed, while we have Adele releasing a powerful album that just shattered that entire image.

Thank you for challenging me to review 25. It is a behemoth of a record that struck the masses because Adele possesses an individuality in her voice that people beg to hear. Other than that, the songs and their structures – save for a few – are rather bland or memorabilia from 21. I’ll secretly keep playing this album until I know every word.

Sincerely, Sean

Score: 6.85/10