Adele has put on her Marigolds, shoved her hand down the blocked pipe and dragged out whatever leftovers were buried down there. This isn’t the first time Adele has waded through emotional muck though – between 19 and 21, the Oscar-winning London songstress is well versed at it. But for 25, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins has confronted the blockage head on, shoved it in a petri dish and had a right good look at it.
This inspection is no easy task. Attempting to make peace with the past is no mean feat either – it requires self-deprecation and confidence by the bucketful. It’s difficult. It’s not as straightforward as selling frank tracks of heartbreak or blissful happiness; this theme is a grey area somewhere in between. This theme is something that has proved difficult to fully realise throughout this album.
At points 25 is glorious, others times painful. When in full flow, Adele’s gigantic voice is unstoppable. But these moments are rare, and startling – tracks like ‘I Miss You’ are monumental and Adele’s voice is unassailable yet serrated, the echoing backing vocals full of Motown swagger are backed up with a pulsing kick drum beat, which is a refreshing binary. Despite the introduction of electro into ‘Water Under The Bridge’, where it not for Adele’s voice threatening to burst through the lyrical banality, it would have been a disaster. But at points even Adele’s voice does not succeed in saving tracks like ‘When We Were Young’ where it cracks and husks with contrived emotion.
As the album runs through, the songs become less exciting and more expected – they begin to blend together into a congealed paste, typified by the mawkish ‘Million Years Ago’. This could be the sentiment of the theme wearing a bit thin and by the time the organs of ‘Sweetest Devotion’ come around it’s hard not to be relieved by Adele’s long overdue burst of happiness.
Adele has shifted through four years of emotional muck, she has revisited pain, reassessed and contritely moved on. The only problem is she kept her Marigolds on.