Music

Another “age”, another album, another 30 million sales??  Four years in the waiting and over one year in the making, ’25’ is, disappointingly, more of the same whipped up with some Max Martin topspin, and slicked off with well oiled production.

Since the announcement of the album’s impending release, there has been non-stop chatter about the singer’s private life – well, her ex to be exact.  ’19’ was about him, ’21’ was about him and now it seems, ’25’ is about him.  Except this time Adele is saying that she has  learned to deal with the loneliness, gained acceptance of the past, moved on, grown up and everything is all good.  Well thanks be to God, because frankly speaking, “the ex” is a bit of a topic milked dry at this stage, no?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Adele’s songs, in fact I very much like quite a few of them, but rolling out the same tried and tested formula ad infinitum produces unimaginative repetitious results that leave no room for excitement.   Thus is the problem with ’25’ – it’s not that it’s a bad album, quite the opposite, it’s an excellent album.  But it defaults, yet again, to fail safe ballads that are fast becoming borderline dullsville.

Hailed as the big Christmas gift to the music industry, it is all a little too neatly packaged, too casually rolled off the production line like your standard selection box.

What ’25’ does offer, by way of some comfort, is an excellent end to end vocal performance.  There was never a doubt that Adele could sing, and over the course of the 11 tracks, she offers up emotive, confident vocals, which cover the full breadth of her range, from cigarette huskiness to full-pelt diva-belt.
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 So what of these songs?  What is interesting, and a tad surprising, is the inclusion of the Max Martin production, ‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’ (a.k.a “kerching, kerching”.) It’s a perky little guitar driven, popping candy number a la Tayl-ney, which sees the singer in a real ‘hail fellow well met mood’ as she bounds through a super catchy pop chorus happily wishing “the ex” and his other half, a big thumbs up, hope it all goes well, have a happy life.
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Sadly, there are no public links available that enable me to share, but here is a snip from the lyrics …
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Send my love to your new lover
Treat her better
We’ve gotta let go of all of our ghosts
We both know we ain’t kids no more
Send my love to your new lover
Treat her better
We’ve gotta let go of all of our ghosts
We both know we ain’t kids no more
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The bulk of the album is less pop more theatrical melodrama.  Although there are noises about maturity and acceptance, this is more of the reflective and retrospective lyricism that featured on ’21’.  ‘Hello’ is actually an ironic counter to the “we’ve all moved on” spin.  Phoning your ex to chew over what is by now well digested fat isn’t exactly an indication of “being at peace” with the past.
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The Paul Epworth collab, ‘I Miss You’, is high drama poppy angst a la Florence Welch (with whom he has also worked) while ‘Water Under The Bridge’ is standard ‘Rolling in the Deep’ fare that sees Adele belting out more references to the ex.  ‘When We Were Young’, co-written with songwriter, Tobias Jesso Jr., is about “everyone that you’ve ever fallen out with, everyone that you’ve ever loved, everyone that you’ve never loved, and stuff like that.”  Er well, right then; it’s about the global population.  Technically it’s a track that should work, but it’s lack of dynamism just makes me want to pass.  Ballad lovers will happily graze on ‘Million Years Ago’, an intimate acoustic number that features the most impressive jazz-oriented vocal performance on the album.

Well performed, well arranged, well produced – check, check, check.  ’25’ ticks all the boxes and yet leaves you feeling flatly disappointed.  While you can’t knock Adele & co for not fixing something that wasn’t broken, this album is playing it safe in the extreme.  It lacks ingenuity, urgency and diversity.

Hopefully by the time Adele gets around to ‘Xnumber’ she’ll have found another muse for her lyrical prowess and maybe once again, we’ll get to see this wonderfully talented artist return to her best.

 

Curiously, it has just been announced that the album will not be available on stream after it’s release – so it’s ‘Hello’ DL//CD//Vinyl, and goodbye Spotify and Apple music for Adele then!

’25’ goes on release 20th November and can be purchased via iTunes here.

’25’ Tracklist

1. Hello
2. Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
3. I Miss You
4. When We Were Young
5. Remedy
6. Water Under The Bridge
7. River Lea
8. Love In The Dark
9. Million Years Ago
10. All I Ask
11. Sweetest Devotion

 

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