Review Summary: What pop music was meant to be.
Like it or not, it is hard to deny that 2011 has been a pretty big year for pop music. From Britney's Femme Fatale
, a mix of club ready dance tunes that ended up being fairly mediocre (not that anyone really expected much different), and the return of Lady Gaga with her dark, yet supposedly motivational album, Born This Way
which was in fact quite a good production and pretty well done, though it did not hold the same magic of her first studio work, The Fame
. Also there was the death of Amy Winehouse, whose albums launched to the top of the charts following her unfortunate passing.
Perhaps no one had a more successful year than British singer-songwriter, Adele Adkins, who followed up her 2009 release, 19
in January of this year with 21
. While 19
contained the successful single "Chasing Pavements" that gave Adele some properly deserved attention, the album really vanished and was not the breakout it was meant to be. Wherever that album failed though, 21
corrects and does better. Featuring the phenomenal first single "Rolling In The Deep," a revengeful soul ballad with pounding drums and magnificent vocal work from Adele. The single and album both, shooting to number one all over the world, becoming one of the best selling albums of the year and giving Adele the attention her first album did not quite grasp.
The entire album flows very nicely as one consecutive piece of work and Adele hits all the right notes and her lyrics are conveyed with proper and powerful emotion. From the beautiful piano work of "Turning Tables" and the loud, emotionally moving album highlight, "Set Fire To The Rain" Adele showcases all her musical talents without overstepping any boundaries. Even the country-influenced instrumental work on "Don't You Remember" and "Take It All," find their home on the album, while at first seeming out of place and not fitting, both add some sort of diversity to the album.
Perhaps the biggest downfall to 21
, is that it is not exactly unique. The whole formula has been seen and done many times before, Adele even saying herself that acts like Winehouse and Duffy have already gone where she's gone. Though this is true, the main difference is that 21
blows away anything off Duffy's sophomore release, Endlessly
, and Winehouse has a very different singing style and image compared to Adele. Comparisons aside, the fact still stands that 21
is an excellent piece of work, though it can drag a bit during the much too long "One and Only" and the stripped down cover of The Cure's "Lovesong," the album begins and ends on highs, closing with the second single "Someone Like You," a beautiful yet bittersweet ballad the essentially sums up the love and heartbreak message of the entire album, providing an excellent close to one of the best pop albums of 2011.