There is no gratuitous fanfare, but the bouffant is epic. Adele is back with a canny marketing campaign, a simple ‘Hello’ and the wait is finally over. Where 21 had our protagonist at sixes and sevens with emotional turmoil, she is far more in control on 25, even instructing the studio hands with a ‘Just the guitar, okay!’ at the beginning of the sassy and brassy Send My Love To Your New Lover, over which pop wünderkind Max Martin presides.

25‘s alumni alone is impressive; we also have Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder, Bruno Mars and Greg Kurstin. Much ado has been made of collaborations that failed to materialise with Sia and Damon Albarn. Nonetheless, 25 finds Adele in brilliant form both vocally and lyrically. Hello is the knowing adieu to Someone Like You and Water Under The Bridge has a full-on goosebump-inducing intro that weaves into a divine and dramatic gospel-pop crescendo.

An obvious highlight is the glorious and tributary River Lea and A Million Years Ago is basically Dusty Springfield singing Suicide Is Painless. Classy ballad territory is marked with Love In The Dark, All I Ask packs the most powerful of lyrical punches and Remedy underscores Adele’s perfect vocal timing, never overblown, but always heartfelt.

The standout track, however, has to be the delicious, gospel cut When We Were Young, which harks back to the naivety of Hometown Glory from a more bittersweet and pragmatic viewpoint. Sublime. Bring on 28.

And just in case you’re wondering, the three exclusive tracks to the Target/Japanese editions are truly worth shelling out airfare for.

Nick Smith

REVIEW: 25 - Adele
80%Overall Score
Reader Rating 3 Votes