Adele - 25


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Unsurprisingly, for the most part, 25 sticks close to the formula of the best-known tracks on its predecessor, 21: big, piano-led ballads, decorated with strings and brass, dealing with heartbreak. In fact, most of them seem to deal with exactly the same heartbreak that fuelled 21: five years on. 25’s best moments come when someone pushes Adele – or Adele pushes herself - beyond just recreating former glories. Set to a finger-picked acoustic guitar, Million Years Ago is audibly influenced by French chanson, its lovely melody recalling in equal parts Charles Aznavour’s Hier Encore and the old Theme from Mash, Suicide Is Painless. Her two collaborations with longstanding producer Paul Epworth are great, particularly I Miss You, which is wreathed in ghostly backing vocals, tumbling drums and time-stretched, vaguely dubstepish vocal samples. Likewise the Danger Mouse-helmed River Lea - the closest thing the album comes to its predecessor’s Rolling in the Deep – its organ-led, faintly gospel-like mood given a tiny hint of strangeness by the producer’s liberal application of echo. It’s an album that could have done with more variety, more sense of an artist using the space and freedom that shifting 30m units buys you to move least a little.