Adele 2015

Adele Returns to Mixed Reviews

English singer-songwriter Adele has serenaded us once again with her powerful vocals and love-struck ballads. The Grammy-winning artist released her last album, 21, in 2011, which earned her extreme popularity in the media and love from critics. Her follow-up to that album, 25, was just released on Nov. 20. Given the significant time gap between her previous album and 25, one would think there would be some sort of uniqueness to her new work. Unfortunately, Adele has crooned us with her same old style. This is her third studio album filled with a jumble of slow songs that all sound the same when thrown together (not to mention her lack of creativity with the numbered title once again). When giving this album a listen all the way through, you’ll find very few standout tracks and tons of noticeable flaws.

It is undeniable that the woman has tremendous talent, but it would have been nearly impossible to top the success she had with her latest album. 21 was certified diamond in the U.S., setting the bar high for 25. After much anticipation, the lead single, “Hello,” was released in October and was highly successful in the media and with critics. Much like her older work, “Hello” is a powerful, slow love ballad that honestly sounds just like it could be placed on her album 21. Although it was typical of her to release a song like this, it is certainly a track that gets stuck in your head, plays on every radio station, and contains lyrics that are plastered all over the internet. “Hello” was a perfect lead single for 25, getting everyone excited for its release.

However, not all of the songs on this album lived up to the standard that “Hello” set for it.  A handful of songs on 21 were heavily pop-influenced. This new pop influence found on 25 was not tasteful and was absolutely not like Adele at all, overall sounding extremely forced. This new sound reminded me of when artists begin to start selling out. On tracks like “Send My Love” and “Water Under the Bridge,” you can hear this over-powering pop influence that imitates many of today’s popular artists and bands such as Taylor Swift and Maroon 5. Both these tracks on 25 are typical radio-playable songs that stray so far from Adele’s musical style. Nothing is wrong with artists branching out from the norm, but these songs do not fit in with the album and do not showcase the talent we all know Adele has.

A more enjoyable tone found throughout Adele’s 25 is her go-to soulful sound. “I Miss You,” “River Lea,” and “Sweetest Devotion” are tracks that showcase this style, with the latter being one of the only tracks that really stands out on the album. Adele’s deep voice fuses perfectly with this soulfulness. When Adele puts out a good song, she always does it a million times better and harder than any other artist does, and she absolutely does not fail us with this song. However, on “I Miss You” and “River Lea,” the strange melody of both songs took away from this soulful sound that everyone seems to usually love. Something about both melodies feel extremely off, as if she tried to do something a little bit different but absolutely did not succeed in doing so.

Besides “Hello,” the typical slow love ballad is featured on 25 several more times. “When We Were Young,” “Remedy,” “Love in the Dark,” and “All I Ask” are all examples of ‘typical Adele’ songs. Her lack of variety bores some people, but there are others who look for just that in her work. I personally think that “Remedy” is the only ballad on 25 that stands out besides “Hello.” Here, Adele does not fail us with her deep, powerful vocals and perfect lyricism, making it one of the most memorable songs on the album.

While 25 did not live up to the standard that 21 left for it, it was not entirely a let down. There were a few standout tracks on the record, and of course, Adele’s infamous talent. Even on her not-so-good tracks, Adele’s voice shined through like it never fails to do. But her pop influence and strange choice of melody on some tracks did not sit so well with some, leaving the album filled with a mix of both flaws and strengths. Nothing Adele releases can be entirely horrible, but 25 definitely could have been better.