Likes: Love In The Dark, Send Your Love (To Your New Lover), I Miss You, When We Were Young.
Overall: Loved the vocals and production. Wish she had at least 1 more up-tempo.
British phenom Adele is back with 25, following up from the 2011 U.S. diamond-certified mega-smash, 21. Sticking to what she does best, the album is ballad-heavy, but don't call it 21 part 2. The angst and heartache isn't as heavy as before, nor is it as bluesy as it was on her debut, 19. There's pop flair with the Max Martin produced "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," which is sonically reflective of his work on Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble." Adele is snarky, but forgiving in the lyrics, fun and hiccupy on the vocals, as she tells her former lover to "Treat [his new lover] better." It's definitely a nice "kiss kiss, wish ya' the best" adieu. Another highlight is the vampy groove "I Miss You." It's starts out with haunting reverberated calls, cascading with deep, Florence + The Machine-esque bass-like drums. Different than what we've heard thus far from Ms. Adkins, it was a treat and quite sexy, if I may add. These 2 refreshing cuts set the tone of the record.
The generous amount of piano-driven ballads include the vulnerable "All I Ask," the gentle "Remedy" and the beautiful moment of "When We Were Young." The latter is a slight nod to Barbra Streisand's "The Way Were Were." The song builds and Adele lets out a belt towards the climax, but sadly, I was left wanting more. Her nostalgia continues on the near-southern-gospel anthem "River Lea" (This one grew on me, personally). My favorite is "Love In The Dark," which opens with a string orchestra and piano. It feels like the mournful Adele that most know and love. "Water Under The Bridge" is beachy and has a big chorus that's movie soundtrack worthy. The guitar chords of a "Million Years Ago" reminded me a tad bit of Mariah Carey's 1998 hit "My All." I love that no 2 songs sound the same. Adele is bright, insightful and opening her heart yet again. One can sense the mood she was in while making the album; getting used to being a household name, stable in love and a new mother. Speaking of, I believe the babbles heard on the breezy "Sweetest Devotion" are from her 3-year-old son, Angelo. With 25, you get a happier Adele; something fans need not be scared of because she's rocking it and it feels organic. It's like you can hear her smiling in the recording booth. The best part of this album has got to be her vocals, especially with the usage of layering in the choruses. She may have had some struggles--needing laser microsurgery after a vocal-cord hemorrhage right before her tour for 21--but she prevailed on this album, executing what seems to be higher notes with clarity and diction. There wasn't too much going over-the-top with the production (contributors included Bruno Mars and Danger Mouse); everything meshed so well.
When discussing 25, I wish people would speak more on Adele's musicality, grace and work put in, rather than what records she'll beat, who she's going to show-up at the Grammy Awards, and whether it will top 21. Listening with quality headphones makes the experience even better, as you can hear the effort to make this album unlike her other 2. It was early 2008 when I first heard Adele and her husky, smoky, soul-tinged vocals on "Chasing Pavements," and just like then, I'm smitten.