On Nov. 20, Adele released “25,” her first studio album in four years. The album followed the musician’s throat surgery resulting from a vocal hemorrhage in 2011, but the album was no worse off because of the surgery. Adele stunned yet again, proving that she very aptly deserves the numerous comparisons she’s been granted to the likes of Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston.
Although I’ve never been a die-hard Adele fan, I can definitely appreciate her obvious talent while listening to this album.
Undoubtedly, the most popular track on the album is “Hello,” which was released as a single weeks prior to the album’s release and has quickly become ubiquitous. The track’s understated and repetitive melody, commanding vocals, relatable lyrics and predictably powerful chorus ensure that it will continue to be popular for several months to come.
The second track, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” was shockingly divergent from Adele’s past songs. Catchy and upbeat, it confronts her age with lines like, “We gotta let go of all of our ghosts; we both know we ain’t kids no more.” The overly simple lyrics make it a no-commitment dance track, and it lacks the typical depth of an Adele song. But maybe this lack of depth is what gives it meaning—the more I listened to each track, the more convinced I was that Adele, in holding back, had unleashed a new phenomenon on the music world in which the listener is urged to expound upon simplified lyrics with his or her own personal interpretations.
Age is confronted yet again in the fourth track, “When We Were Young.”
“We were sad of getting old,” Adele sings, speaking perhaps to the lost love she addresses in “Hello.” “And a part of me keeps holding on just in case it hasn’t gone. I guess I still care. Do you still care?”
Soaring vocals and palpable nostalgia grant this song the emotional depth hinted by its title, and it’s obvious to me after listening to this track that Adele means to spend the greater part of this album reflecting on the past.
The sixth track, “Water Under the Bridge,” is the flip side of “Send my Love.” The speaker is the lovesick fraternal twin who is not okay with losing her lover. Again, the soaring, searing vocals that have come to epitomize Adele’s songs are what give this song its power.
In the seventh track, “River Lea,” Adele revisits her childhood in an ode to the river Lea, whom she all but blames for her troubles. This track was undoubtedly my favorite from the entire album. I loved the dark gospel quality, the riveting chorus and the metaphorical meaning littered throughout.
“Consider this my apology,” she sings, expounding on the apologetic calls she makes in “Hello.”
Finally, the listener learns in track nine, “Million Years Ago,” that Adele misses more than just her lover. To me, this track was extremely reminiscent of “Chasing Pavements” on the 2008 “19” album. I loved the eerie humming in the back- ground and the delicate melody that allowed for striking vocals. The pain, again, was palpable: “I wish I could live a little more— look up to the sky, not just the floor. I feel like my life is flashing by, and all I can do is watch and cry.”
Although Adele has opted not to release “25” on any streaming services, it is available for purchase on iTunes and anywhere music is sold.