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​Adele soars once more

“25” proves to be well worth the wait

<p>Adele's latest, "25," was released this past Friday following anticipation from fans.</p>

Adele's latest, "25," was released this past Friday following anticipation from fans.

When discussing an artist as monumental as Adele, the burden of the past inevitably comes up. “21” established Adele not as a pop star but an incomparable talent with an ageless voice. Her follow up, “25,” manages to cement her fame, and though the album treads familiar thematic paths it still triumphs as a record of soul, sadness and rapture.

It is easy to invite comparisons between “25” and its predecessor as they both thrive on themes of heartache and all-consuming desire. While “21” was full of tearful and at times brazen goodbyes, “25” offers invitations to rekindle old flames and relive the past. Adele’s vocal delivery continues to be impeccable as she belts and wails with the power of a classic R&B/soul singer. This is all too apparent on the opening track, “Hello,” and even more so with “I Miss You.” The latter swells with sultry lyrics like “I want every single piece of you / I want your heaven and your oceans too / Treat me soft but touch me cruel” before exploding into a grandiose chorus.

Adele can layer subtlety as well as she can convey bombast. Many of the tracks on “25” rely only on a piano or guitar melody and Adele’s versatile voice. “Million Years Ago” contains the simplest production out of all the songs on the album, and yet it conveys just as much heartbreak. The song wallows in nostalgia as Adele realizes growing up and fame often come with a price: an insatiable longing for the past. She follows this with the piano-driven “All I Ask,” in which she pleads for one more night with a lover. Her voice quivers on the hint of a breakdown as she wonders whether she’ll ever love again.

The greatest moments seem to dwell at the beginning and the end of the album, leaving the middle of the album less memorable. Though “When We Were Young,” “Water Under the Bridge” and “Love in the Dark” receive the classic Adele treatment, they do not go as hard or as soft as the surrounding material. Singing about sadness carries the risk of monotony, and while Adele avoids this through sheer talent, she accomplishes her best when she goes to extremes.

Such anguish leaves only so much room for light-heartedness, though cheerful moments do appear on the album and offer Adele the chance to shake up her usual formula. “Send My Love (To My New Lover)” bounces on guitar strums and handclaps, with lyrics highly reminiscent of “Someone Like You” only tinged with resolution instead of sorrow. Adele’s assertion that she and her lover “ain't kids no more” comes across as a little childish in its own right, but this bit of fun saves the album from being a typical breakup record.

Nothing is as joyful as the album closer, however. “Sweet Devotion” finishes off the album with pure exuberance, and it serves as a powerful depiction of the hope that many young adults feel when taking on the challenges that love brings. With baby coos and background vocalizations that conjure images of singing angels, the song proves to be one of Adele’s greatest achievements. If her songs of happiness can attain the same recognition as her songs of sadness, then Adele may be on her way to capturing the most important emotion to come out of heartbreak: pure hope for new love.

Rating: 4.5/5