Friday, November 20, 2015

Album Review: Adele - 25

After largely disappearing from the public eye from the past three years, the (arguably) biggest star of the millennium is back. Coming off the unfathomable success of Adele's sophomore album "21" - 30 million albums, 3 #1 hits, over half a dozen Grammy's - 25 is tearing records down on its own. 

21 was largely pulled by four fantastic songs: The epic "Rolling in the Deep," the masterful "Someone Like You," the dramatic "Set Fire to the Rain" and the underrated magnum opus "Turning Tables." The rest of the album was largely uneventful, but the four aforementioned tracks were so damn good that it didn't matter. 25 doesn't have a blatant standout group of songs; while lead single "Hello" largely triumphs over its neighbors in a similar manner to Rolling in the Deep, no song is bold enough to warrant any comparisons to the Big Four of 21.

What is perhaps 25's biggest fault is that it feels ironically rushed. After four years, one would think that 25 would be fully developed in every foreseeable direction. Yet the tracklisting is on Beyoncé's "4" level of horrendous: "Hello" is the only understandable choice as it's a clear album opener, but the terrifyingly poppy "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)" as track number 2 while songs like "Love in the Dark" and "All I Ask" are stuffed in the albums latter half? A clear mistake on the part of team Adele.

Then there's lyrical clunkiness: "Sometimes I feel lonely in the arms of your touch." Just say "arms" Adele, it's understood that when you're in someone's arms they're touching you. "It feels like we're oceans apart / There is so much space between us," when you say "oceans apart" it's also understood that there's "space" between the two parties. Simple mistakes and redundancies like this are almost unacceptable for an album that's largely expected to be perfect.

Yet somehow, some way, through these faults, 25 still shines. Adele's vocal delivery is unlike any of her contemporaries - no, she's not Whitney, her technique is still decent at best, and her range is largely limited - but she pours every drop of her heart into her delivery so daftly and unapologetically that it's often breathtaking. She's one of the few singers who deserves the moniker of "being able to sing the phonebook." 

The songs themselves also rarely falter sonically, all being enjoyable listens even with awkward lyrical choices and faulted track placements. While everyone will be disappointed to learn that there isn't a ballad with the elegance of Someone Like You, they should at least be able to settle with Rolling in the Deep's sister Hello.

No, 25 is not the best album of the century, hell even the year, but it will likely endure as a classic anyways thanks to the limitless transcendence of Adele.

Overall: 7/10