She's back and with a slightly different kind of sound, Adele is edging into the pop world with upbeat songs with a few powerhouse ballads thrown in the mix to remind everyone who she really is.
After a three-year long hiatus following the beautiful orchestral James Bond masterpiece that was ‘Skyfall’, and nearly five years since the release of ‘Rolling in the Deep’ on her second album 21, Adele is finally back with – yup, you guessed it – 25.
And she is back with a slightly revised sound. In the past, Adele’s albums have been known as the ones to listen to after you’ve broken up with your long-term boy/girlfriend with only a box of kleenex and a bottle of rose to keep you company, but this time round it’s different. Less ballad-y, with more pop-vocals and the occasional hint of a Spanish influence in several of the songs on the hit album, particularly ‘Million Years Ago’ . Don’t get me wrong, of course there are about three or four high hitting ballads on the album, but it seems Adele steered away from doing an full album of those, you might argue to avoid being type-casted.
The sound of loneliness and heartbreak is gone and the album is instead what she calls “a make-up record”, with a reflection on the pass with themes of time and fond nostalgia while learning from ones mistakes rather than taking it out on your man as she did in ’21′.
Starting off the conversation of reflection on the past is ‘Hello’, the debut single from the album which is breaking more records every day. The song showcases Adele’s vocal range beautifully, starting off deep and slow to then finish with exquisite high notes. With the main lyric being ‘Hello, from the other side’, she is stating from the outset her direction for the album, looking on the other side of the coin, rather than being the heartbroken girl that she once was in 21.
Alternatively, the follow-up track ‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’ is the polar opposite, a new style for Adele focusing on pop and catchy lyrics rather than ones that resonate with the listener, the track is also reminiscent of M.I.A’s ‘Paper Planes’ with its repetitive hook and upbeat sound. It is therefore no surprise to learn that the producer of the track has also worked with pop princess Britney Spears as well as in Taylor Swift’s handover from country to pop music. It seems that Adele is following the same part as Swift, hedging towards the pop and commercial rather than the authentic sound she has become known for.
It is clear that Adele has in her time off listened to several pop tracks has she has influences and sounds of Lana Del Rey in ‘The River Lea’ and ‘Sweet Devotion’. The pop songs are nostalgic and following the themes that she was aiming for in the album because its as if you’ve heard the beat somewhere else – it is not original yet it is still great all due to Adele’s powerful and gripping vocal talent.
The real jewel in the crown is, ‘When We Were Young’. The track is a reflective piece speaking of treasuring the small things in life and securing memories to look back on because one day all they will be is movies and sounds. It is something that can resonate with all listeners, teaching that nostalgia although at times sad, can be happy. The message really hits home when she builds up to that beautiful and effortless high note.
25 is different for Adele as it focuses on more pop-like sounds with influences from some of the biggest names in popular music right now, yet it is a welcome change. The music, though at times repetitive, is still enjoyable even though it feels as if it has been heard before, because we have not heard Adele’s twist on it till now – it’s like all she touches turns to gold as even the worse song on the album (for me, probably ‘Why Do You Love Me’) is still good! The pop songs also allow for the ballads in which she really showcases her voice, to truly shine and be the beckon of light that we love from Adele.
25 is out now via XL Recordings.