Unless you have been hibernating since 2011, Adele is a name with which you are familiar. Her album “21” a follow up to her quieter debut “19,” probably had you crying alone in your car on more than one occasion. Her voice, dark and rich in texture, is unparalleled in contemporary pop music. So when “25” was announced earlier this fall, everyone hit the pre-order button without a second thought. Her first single, “Hello,” has received ample airtime since its release in October. Still, we were all left wondering: would this new album live up to the hype? Would Adele lose her magic touch?
The answer is complicated. Adele is not like other pop artists; she doesn’t fill tabloids, nor does she push a new album out every year. She maintains a level of secrecy, and her music is treated as a piece of art, rather than a casual release. When an album only comes out every three years, it must be special, extraordinary even. “25,” although a stellar release, is not Adele’s best. Following the release of “21,” Adele went on tour, which ended early when she suffered a vocal chord hemorrhage that required surgery. Since then, she has maintained a relatively low profile. She had a kid and seemed to grow up. Much of “25” seems to reflect this passage of time and personal growth. The album opens with “Hello,” an aching tune about connecting with an ex-lover after a number of years. The lyrics pine for a time of innocence, a time before heartbreak. The next track, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” seems to contradict her previous statements in a more acoustic and pop-like vibe. She feels more confident, and this song is one of the only happy tracks on the album.
“25” is about heartbreak, longing, and growing up, three things on which Adele is the resident musical expert. Adele is unmatched in her ability to communicate human emotion, specifically with love and loss. There is something universal about her lyricism; she taps into the deepest parts of the heart and turns vulnerability into power. Still, three albums of pining love songs seems a bit much, and many modern music listeners want something new. Regardless, the album is so artfully crafted that most snobs can let the corniness go and enjoy it as is. Stand out tracks include “When We Were Young,” “Remedy” and “All I Ask”—the last of which was written with Bruno Mars and tells the haunting story of a woman who knows it is the last night of her relationship.
If we are all being honest with ourselves, at some point we’ve all locked ourselves in a room and blasted Adele to have a good cry. This album will have you missing people you’ve never met. So pour yourself a glass of wine, turn the lights down low, put “25” on and let it happen. 4 out 5 stars.