Adele’s ’25’ shows maturity, but lacks fresh ideas

Caleigh Stephens

After four years and an almost career-ending vocal surgery, Adele returned on Nov. 20 with “25,” a new album focused on nostalgia and full of drama.

In “25,” Adele answers the question of how to follow up the larger-than-life album “21” that Billboard recently proclaimed “The Greatest Album of All Time.”

She does it by sticking strictly to what made “21” a smash hit. “25” evokes the same themes, the same emotions, the same sound as her past two albums. In fact, many of the songs on “25” could seamlessly fit in on “21” or even “19”.

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“When We Were Young,” is a perfect example of this. Adele sings, “Cause I’ve been by myself all night long/Hoping you’re someone I used to know.” The lyric evokes the break-up album that “21” was, and the song itself is just another sad regretful ballad that comprises Adele’s signature.

 “25” shows a little maturity, especially in subject, but any growth or other development in Adele’s sound is virtually nonexistent.

This isn’t to say that “25” isn’t a perfectly good album. It’s nothing new, but Adele’s powerful voice has an enchanting quality that would be able to drive any album. At this point, Adele could release anything and watch it rise to the top of the charts.

The album is a true powerhouse, full of heart-wrenching songs anchored by Adele’s unmistakable voice. If you are looking for some optimism, there is none of that to be found here.  Even the most upbeat songs have an undeniably somber tone.

The lead single, “Hello,” skyrocketed up the charts upon its release in late October. The ballad starts out the album with a bang and sets the tone of the album. The song itself starts out slowly, and transitions into a soaring yet utterly melancholy chorus.

The seventh track, “River Lea,” is one of the only true standouts on an album that largely blends together.  The gospel-tinged collaboration with Danger Mouse brings the rawness that is severely lacking on the rest of the album.

In “Million Years Ago,” Adele channels a little Amy Winehouse in a powerful song dealing with the nostalgia that is a consistent theme throughout the album. The lyric, “I know I’m not the only one/Who regrets the things they’ve done/Sometimes I just feel it’s only me/Who never became who they thought they’d be,” encapsulates the feel of the song, and of the album. The music in the song is quiet, as Adele is accompanied solely by an acoustic guitar, something that allows for her voice to shine and take all of the focus.

“25” has all the elements to be a sure hit, but whether or not it will stand the test of time as its predecessors have is less likely.  The album has everything that is expected from it, but not everything I wanted out of it.

Is “25” a good album? Yes. Is it better than “21”? Not quite.