Adele 25 XL Recordings
The engrossing power of Adele is an interesting phenomenon. Just hours before the release of 25, it was reported that the record would not be available on streaming services, most notably Spotify and Apple Music. It was a decision that Adele herself was reportedly personally involved in. Spotify responded to the decision swiftly, “We love and respect Adele, as do her 24m fans on Spotify. We hope that she will give those fans the opportunity to enjoy 25 on Spotify alongside 19 and 21 very soon.” The strange and frankly brilliant reality is that the tens of millions of subscribers Spotify have are of no concern to Adele. In terms of the music industry post-21, Spotify isn’t a standard she has to scale up to, it is an operation she rivals.
Somehow, the inevitability of 25 smashing all conceivable records and becoming one of the best selling albums of the century qualifies its existence. These are songs that are justified on the clause that they win over the hearts of millions of people. 25 asserts its success even before you press play.
It’s a ballad-heavy album, but the vocal performances manage to stop them all blurring into one. Remedy and All I Ask are perhaps the album’s most forgettable moments, the latter veering dangerously close to sounding like Andrew Lloyd Webber penned it for a Cats sequel. It’s not all completely schmaltzy, Send My Love (To Your New Lover) is the record’s most uptempo chapter but it’s the only song on the LP that sounds like it could belong to any other pop heavyweight (it was co-written by Max Martin, the dark faceless overlord responsible for Taylor Swift’s last three singles). Then there’s the seasoned, gospel-infused soul sounds of River Lea which, while sounding incredibly authentic, are dedicated to the river that runs through Adele’s native Tottenham—a literal expression of just how firmly the record exists on the comfort of home turf.
If you’re willing to indulge the sheer scale of Adele’s all-conquering status, then 25 is an enjoyable listen. The album picks up where 21 left off. While the title might suggest change, Adele shows no interest in reinvention, I guess why should she? It’s a formula designed to create songs which possess the power to last in the memory of a generation. These are heavily produced, radio-friendly belters built to simmer in their own vast success.