Album Review

21

21

by Adele


XL Recordings
6 / 10
16th February 2010

Reviewed by Brannavan Gnanalingam


Adele rose to fame at the same time as a whole bunch of British singers with safe voices and tedious songs started ruling the airwaves (e.g. Amy Winehouse, Duffy; New Zealand’s Gin Wigmore unfortunately latched onto that trend). Adele had the youth and talent to actually suggest her debut album 19 would have been able to transcend the other references. And while 21, her follow-up and massive selling second album, struggles at part to demonstrate much of a personality (especially in comparison to the great soul singers which Adele is clearly in thrall to), the songs are assured, the production top-notch, and the overall package, one that is slick and easy to see why she’s carving up a little at the moment.

The album’s highlight is the opener: ‘Rolling in the Deep’, which realises (that unlike many of her other contemporaries) that a good voice isn’t sufficient to make a good pop song. It’s oh-so-catchy, propulsive and slightly reckless, and sets the album up remarkably well. And while what follows afterwards doesn’t match up to the standards set by that song, it’s pleasant enough. ‘Rumour Has It’ has excellent production, and carries on the dark tone. ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ is a little too overwrought, but ‘He Won’t Go’ is a moving track, and Rick Rubin’s production (he produces about four songs on the album) is understated.

The album goes into a bit of a lull in the midpoint – as the tension of the first couple of songs get lost in some uninspiring melodies (such as ‘Take it All’ and ‘I’ll Be Waiting’). A charming cover of the Cure’s ‘Lovesong’ fits in well – her version making the original sound positively boisterous. The album ends with soon-to-be-released single ‘Someone Like You’, which you can see storming up the charts, and making her an even bigger star. It’s a little too melodramatic, but the lyrical and vocal performance is evidence of her talent. The album overall has quite a world-weary feel (scary given how precocious she is), and her insights into relationships are particularly downbeat – but she could do with a bit of bite. But given the strength of the flashes of talent on 21, and if she doesn’t stray too far down the safe route, there’s plenty of scope for her to do something pretty damn good.






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