“Hello, it’s me.” Three simple words, yet instantly recognizable due to the voice behind them: Adele. It’s been a long, excruciating, four-year wait for a new album from the English songstress. In the time she has been gone, the music industry has changed drastically. Within those four years, streaming has become the main way to listen to music, making purchasing music obsolete. Adele’s absence from music has also brought an increase in Adele-esque performers, aiming to strike the same chords the way the 27 — surprisingly not 25 — year-old struck over 31 million people with her previous album, 21. However, Adele proves that no one can do it quite like her on her most hopeful and nostalgic record yet, 25.
25 is as simplistic as it is monumental — a measly 11 tracks make up the standard tracklisting. However, it is this move that allows Adele to truly convey her thoughts and feelings. The album begins with first single “Hello,” a return to form for the singer. The song is minimal, yet effective, playing out as a heart-wrenching call to a previous love. Backed by an emotional piano riff and breathtaking chorus, the single is immediately and easily a standout.
As 25 continues, it becomes evident just how strong Adele’s vocals have become. Songs such as the dramatic “All I Ask,” co-written by Bruno Mars, show the singer pouring her heart into her vocal delivery, while the Target-exclusive track “Can’t Let Go” portrays a far more somber and tender woman than the one the world has come to know.
The charm in Adele is how relatable and how normal she truly is. That is one reason why her previous albums have sold millions of copies. The other reason is easy to see: her music appeals to all. Whether you are crying over a failed relationship, or crying because of how amazing your significant other is, Adele has a song for it. Album cut “Remedy,” almost a sonic sequel to her 2011 song “Turning Tables,” tells the tale of having unconditional love for someone, while “Million Years Ago” discusses the missed opportunities one has in a lifetime. When Adele sticks to these simple and universal topics, her music is most effective.
It is hard to find a negative in the album, other than the amount of time fans had to wait to receive it. Through this new installment, Adele is able to explore new territory while also building on the emotional turmoil seen in previous albums. The Max Martin-produced “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” sees the songstress stepping into a far more upbeat territory than ever before, but manages to do so without alienating those who were here for the “Someone Like You” version of Adele. Every song is able to tell the tale of her life as a 25-year-old (which is when the album was written, for those wondering) while also managing to be a cohesive and solid collection of songs.
Having bought both of Adele’s previous albums, I eagerly awaited her return. And I must say that I was not disappointed in the least. Adele has never sounded more confident and sure of who she is as a musician, mother, lover, etc. While she has grown and was able to find some happiness, as seen in album highlight “When We Were Young,” she has also managed to establish herself for the long haul with 25, incorporating artistic and personal growth into her music.
Clearly, I’m not the only one who was thrilled by her return, seeing as the album sold 3 million copies in its first week in the US alone, shattering *NYSNC’s previously held record with No Strings Attached, which sold 2.4 million copies during its 2000 debut. So it’s obvious that while the public says goodbye to the heartbroken and bitter Adele, we say “Hello” to a far more youthful and optimistic version of the 27-year-old — it’s a much welcomed change.
5 out of 5 stars.
— Jake Johnson, Music Blogger