Adele
21


3.5
great

Review

by Nagrarok USER (219 Reviews)
January 20th, 2011 | 40 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Adele ages up.

The hype for Adele’s debut in 2008 was immense. Barely out of her teens, the singer was propelled to fame in Britain and the Netherlands, followed by the rest of Europe, in what seemed an instant. Chasing Pavements rose to the top of the charts; critics lauded the record, and 19 made Adele Adkins the mainstream’s newly adored baby while her rebellious counterpart Amy Winehouse wasn’t putting out anything. And truly, the girl could sing. But behind the production and the hype hid a budding singer-songwriter that wasn’t really all that sure of herself yet: the naivety of her ballads and her sometimes unsteady vocal performance weren’t noted by her welcoming audience, and with all that hype, why would they? The girl was put in a worldwide spotlight a few years too soon.

Luckily for her, Adele did take note of her own flaws. She knew that she had to improve, to age up, and she intended to do so. 21 is a logical title for a follow-up, and both the album’s name and cover create a very deliberate contrast to 19, to show that Adele has indeed grown. From the moment lead single Rolling in the Deep was released last year, solely in the Netherlands thus far, it became an instant hit. Since the country was her biggest breakthrough outside of her own, it was a logical strategy to promote her second album there sooner. The tune is catchy, but also darker and more soulful: Adele did not take the easy road by duplicating her first album, and prospects were good.

Singles can be deceiving, but 21 does deliver. Adele has yet to find a style that is completely her own, but she is well on her way. In the writing department, she’s had a bit more help this time around: along with her previous collaborator Eg White, popular Brit producer Paul Epworth (Florence & The Machine, Bloc Party) and OneRepublic figure Ryan Tedder, among others, have kindly lent a hand, whilst the majority of the songs are produced by long-time Red Hot Chili Peppers-collaborator Rick Rubin. With so many people around it, Adele’s second is a far more produced affair than 19; yet another contrast to the majority of acoustic, sparsely arranged songs that made up the latter.

The industry is all too interested in keeping Adele relevant, which is not to say that is always a bad thing. In this case, it isn’t. 21 is an obvious foray into soul, a style that Adele employed from the beginning, but now goes into much deeper. She handles her voice capably on deliberately old-school-sounding tunes as Take it All and One and Only, perfectly masks the fact that Lovesong is a Cure cover, but doesn’t always explore the territories that she best fits: the chorus of Rumour Has It just isn’t made for the girl. The album however is consistent: with this level of production and co-writing, it is easy to suspect an overly commercialized scenario, and although the target audience is obvious, this is a very decent collection of pop songs. The next single candidates are fairly predictable. The easily accessible piano ballads Turning Tables and Someone Like You, as well as the string-dominant, huge-chorused Set Fire to the Rain will no doubt make radio airplay in the coming months. And in the way this is supposed to go for pop records, they are also the best moments here.

21 is an improvement over 19, and what makes it that is not only the fact the Adele seems to be growing as a both a singer and a songwriter, but also that it isn’t as disjointed as its predecessor. Adele’s former record hopped between acoustic ballads and huge songs that her voice couldn’t quite tackle yet. Her follow-up shows maturation, consistency, and once again ensures her position in mainstream pop music. The public will eat it up, yes, but she isn’t undeserving of it.

Check-Outs:

Rolling in the Deep
Turning Tables
Set Fire to the Rain
Someone Like You




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user ratings (865)
3.5
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
January 20th 2011


8602 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

To our dear mods, album just came out in the Netherlands.



Anyway, I don't believe she's popular in the US, but I've been hearing Rolling in the Deep at least three times a day for a couple of months on the radio, had to do this.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 20th 2011


10229 Comments


Rolling In The Deep is actually good, I didn't like her first album.

conradtao
Emeritus
January 20th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Chasing Pavements caused a small stir here in the states, but aside from that - not much about this gal. She's huge in London, though.



Good review! Pos.

Bitchfork
January 20th 2011


7584 Comments


"Rolling in the Deep" is awesome. Those backup vocals and their interplay with Adele's belt is chilling yet infectious.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 20th 2011


10229 Comments


also:

but now dives much deeper into


Bitchfork
January 20th 2011


7584 Comments


And the only thing I can really remember off 19 is "Hometown Glory"

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2011


17566 Comments


i rmeember secretly loving chasing pavements

AggravatedYeti
January 20th 2011


7683 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

my mother loves this woman.

ConsiderPhlebas
January 20th 2011


6157 Comments


She's lost a bit of that puppy fat

Knott-
Emeritus
January 20th 2011


10229 Comments


'Hometown Glory' is great it was on the real, good, English Skins.

Nagrarok
January 20th 2011


8602 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Chasing Pavements caused a small stir here in the states, but aside from that - not much about this gal. She's huge in London, though.



Good review! Pos.




Thanks Conrad, obviously she's pretty massive in Holland as well.



also:




I wasn't feeling too comfortable with that sentence already, all taken care of.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 20th 2011


10229 Comments


she just wants to get to 69 really that's the only reason she's doing it

Bitchfork
January 20th 2011


7584 Comments


"'Hometown Glory' is great it was on the real, good, English Skins."
Skins apparently had a nice soundtrack from what I've heard. New one isn't terrible in terms of soundtracks from the twenty minutes I watched.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2011


17566 Comments


i think skins had section IIIa of music for 18 musicianso n it


it also has "heavy water" by grouper

outline
January 20th 2011


563 Comments


she was on snl that one time. that's all i know about her.

Jethro42
January 21st 2011


15970 Comments


Though not my style at all isn't it, Set Fire to the Rain is not bad at all. On the other hand, Rolling in the Deep's refrain is way too similar to the one found in Steely Dan's 'Reeling in the years'. Excellent review Nag.

Nagrarok
January 21st 2011


8602 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really? I don't hear the similarity.

Jethro42
January 21st 2011


15970 Comments


Well, not in structures actually, rather in tonality, so it has an instant turn-off effect on me.

Nagrarok
January 21st 2011


8602 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You sure do have keen hearing to notice that.

Jethro42
January 21st 2011


15970 Comments


You sure do have keen hearing to notice that.

hahaha well, I honestly think so. It's safe to say that I'm kinda equipped of an ultra-sensitive rip off detector wich is sometimes useful, sometimes interfering when, for instance, I cut off the inspiration of a fellow musician during a compositional process.



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