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Adele’s '25': First Thoughts

A postcard from her heart.

Kevin Winter // Getty Images

Whether it’s distance makes the heart grow fonder or you never know a good thing until it’s gone, one thing is certain: Adele has been missed.

After years of internalizing heartbreaks on our own, the 27-year-old Grammy and Oscar winner has returned to beautifully articulate our feelings through song. And the music industry couldn’t be happier. Especially considering she's reportedly on pace to sell 2.5 million copies of 25 in its first week alone.

Adele Adkins is still a young, love-wracked lioness writer and vocalist, except this outpour of emotions stretches for a sound as old as the hills. Shouldering a lifetime of passion and regret, her third studio album is quite simply a forgone conclusion to the windows of her 20’s and the fuel that spilled over from losing it all for the sake of anchoring her heart. Certainly, it’s a jolt of growth.

But for the most part, 25 sticks to the formula of the best-known tracks on its predecessor, 21. Decorated in big, piano-led ballads, strings and brass scoring, Adele is still, metaphorically speaking, in a stake out on her ex’s front porch, tearfully waiting for either his arrival or her departure.

The song titles tell the story: “When We Were Young,” “I Miss You,” “Water Under the Bridge” and “A Million Years Ago.” Casting herself as Old Woman River, Adele reaches for a soggy sentiment that pumps romance and motherhood into a fever pitch that unequivocally explains the status of her hiatus. But to be fair, it was a lamented vanishing time that every iconic artist longs for over the capacity of a self-sustaining career. And the fact that she effortlessly replaced just about any song in radio rotation with a simple “Hello,” addresses the topic that exceptional music will stand the test of time.

25 is without reasoning, a showcase of her titanic voice. In a world full of singers who feel impelled to express emotion by vocally scrapping the edges of all sacred material, Adele realizes that less is more, and she certainly has the pipes for the job. Invariably delivered on a beautiful gust of octaves, Adele’s aesthetic of gospel progressions and pop-hooting backgrounds, is the “Rolling In The Deep” postcard we’ve patiently dwelled on, and it’s finally here. Thank you, Adele.

“Hello”

As we are all aware, “Hello” is not only the lead single, but more so an anthem for anyone who ever assumed an apology was in order for someone who has long since moved on. It was a perfectly penned reintroduction, and the break-up relationship ballad that we can always count on from Adele.

“Send My Love”

“We gotta let go of all of our ghosts/ We both know we ain’t kids no more,” Adele sings. “Send My Love”(To Your New Lover) is Adele’s version of declaring she is over a love that was once promised to last forever. Story of our lives, right? But it’s time to move on, which in this case is easy to do with the danceable closure track, as she belts, “I’m over it!”

“When We Were Young”

Okay, let’s be honest. When we were young, we all were pretty much idiots, well at least when it came to love. “When We Were Young,” is that romanticizing song that sounds beautiful, but carries that perfect mix of reflection and regret. “I was so scared to face my fears/ Cause nobody told me that you’d be here,” she sings.

“Water Under The Bridge”

Finally, the song that we will scream-sing at any given opportunity. Sure, Adele is singing from a place about being hung up on someone (nothing new), but the tempo is amazingly beautiful. “If you’re gonna let me down, let me down gently,” she pleas. Somewhat an oxymoron, dancing to the release of a love affair, but it works and you’ll agree.

“Sweetest Devotion”

The fade out track on the album, “Sweetest Devotion” laments the demise of a big relationship. “And there is something about the way you love me/ That finally feels like home,” she sings. The bang to Adele finding love from music, motherhood, her fans and from within.

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