To say I’m emotionally wrecked would be the predictable response after listening to Adele’s highly anticipated new album, 25. I’m not wrecked; I feel fine. I didn’t go through an emotional catharsis (although I sure feel like I’m in need of one). I can’t list the most heartbreaking lyrics from the album or measure the ounces of tears I didn’t really cry. Waking up on the release day and browsing through Twitter, I felt like there was some kind of emotionally physical response required to happen while listening to this album.
Why am I talking about this? Because I want to tell other fans of Adele that you don’t need to cry to enjoy Adele’s new album. As the songstress calls it, 25 is a “make-up record,” it’s more mature, a little more introspective, and less melancholy. Not to say that there aren’t some songs packed with longing, and those did make my heart ache a bit. However, it’s—dare I say it?—a happier and livelier album about forgiveness, becoming an adult—and yeah, some nostalgia as well.
“Hello” opens the album and works as a good bridge between 21 and 25. Released a few weeks ago as the first single, “Hello” broke records and its release came with a stunning video by up-and-coming director Xavier Dolan.
When I first listened to “Hello,” I was already sad and crying for completely different reasons. The first sound of her voice has a soothing effect. “Hello, it’s me” are perfect opening lyrics, and the song moves and sweeps dramatically. We instantly see why Adele calls it a make-up record.
The next track is the Max Martin produced “Send My Love (To Your New Lover),” which I adore. I have a feeling that this will be the breakout song of the album. It’s pure pop. It’s catchy, fun, and feel good. It’s far from a moody ballad and fits right in with the theme of album.
Speaking of moody, “I Miss You” is a stark change. There’s a theatrical quality to the track. Packed with painful longing, Adele stays composed delivering a steady and elegant performance despite the intense lyrics. That’s also definitely at play in ‘Remedy” and “Millions Years Ago;” both tracks have a sparse arrangement that let Adele’s vocals take the spotlight.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Adele knows what works for her. The overall production styles and various collaborations on 25 make it a more dynamic album than 21. I can’t say that it does have any singles that are powerful as the ones that made 21 famous, but overall, this new album is more consistently satisfying.
“When We Were Young,” co-written with indie artist Tobias Jesso Jr., is one of my favorite songs on the album. Like “Millions Years Ago” and “All I Ask,” it tackles the passage of time and the grappling anxiety that comes with it. Moving into the unknown future is daunting, and wanting to freeze time just to not have to deal with it can be sweet relief, if short-lived. These are the songs that speak to me the most and fall more in line with being 25. A person’s mid-twenties is that time when we’re making that true transition from adolescence to adulthood. The stuff we used to feel petty about are over because there are bigger things on the horizon, scary things that we’re going to have to get through. That insecurity and the hard decisions you end up having to make are channeled throughout many of 25’s tracks, especially with “Love in the Dark,” the seemingly Nina-Simone-inspired “River Lea,” and “Water under the Bridge.”
The album ends with “Sweetest Devotion,” clearly a celebratory song about motherhood. The rhyming lyrics are sweet, corny, but still an uplifting way to end the album. 25 is simultaneously strong and vulnerable, a journey through forgiveness, remembrance, new responsibilities with love weaved throughout each lyric and beat.
Favorite Tracks: “When We Were Young” & “Love in the Dark”
25 by Adele is now available.