This Adele article was written by Steven Loftin, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Adam Barrett.

Why does releasing a surprise album, something that has been done to extinction recently, seem to rarely meet our expectations? When we’re aware an album is coming, we’re given the usual promotion and single releases, which gives us time to adjust to whatever said artist is coming out with. When you drop a surprise album there’s a certain amount of hype that ultimately kills off any hope of it being accepted with grace.

First you have to process the fact that an influential artist is back, normally after an extended period of time, usually long enough for people to give a shit. Then you actually hear the comeback track, which is essentially the higher end of everything good they’ve ever done. Swell. Finally you get the new album, where you hope everything meets some made up expectations in your head. Which it doesn’t.

Ever since the first snippet of ‘Hello’ hit our screens during X Factor a month or so ago, Adele’s new output has been the music world’s sole focus point. Interviews have slowly arisen from the promotional circuit, each one painted to be exclusive and life affirming in someway. Thus the hype began.

‘Hello’ is exactly what you’d imagine from an Adele comeback track. It has erupting crescendos, untouchable vocals and instrumentals that just carry you off. Track two, ‘Send My Love (To Your New Lover)’, suddenly picks up pace, almost signalling the beginning of the “new Adele”, though co-written with Max Martin, it’s no sign this was a necessary call for help. Its popping guitar rhythm is all well and good but the song’s content just mirrors that of the previous records, an ode to a lost lover.

‘I Miss You’ is a surge of power that is very well needed to keep things moving. It’s dark, almost brooding in its ability to convey its message without losing any worth. The album certainly has its moments of clarity, you feel as if this is something worth the hype, other times it kind of falls flat and leaves you with a sense of blandness. The natural cure to this would perhaps have been to trim some of the fat so to speak, filler isn’t a term used lightly but you can’t help but feel the whole thing has been watered down mildly.

It feels a bit bastardised to comment upon the lyrical content of the record being in too much of a similar vein to that of the untouchable ’21’, but at moments it can feel recycled. There are tender moments alluding to the inability to being a normal person once you’re one of the most admired and watched acts on the planet, particularly shown in ‘Million Years Ago’ but still there is nothing particularly fresh about the material.

Maybe she’s playing it safe particularly because it’s such a widely regarded return and it’s easier to do this than come back with a sound that goes against your normal modus operandi. Here’s hoping she returns soon with a sound that is fresh and enters new territory, it would be a shame for such a talent to go stale so early.

’25’ is out now via XL Recordings.

25 cover

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