Adele 30 Reviews: Has Her First Album In Six Years Been Worth The Wait?

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Adele (Photo: Columbia)
Adele (Photo: Columbia)

After weeks of hype and headlines, Adele’s new album, 30, is finally upon us.

A new Adele album is an event of truly global proportions. A bit like Christmas, really. And this release – her fourth studio album, and first in six years – is set to be the soundtrack for millions of fans from Tottenham to Tokyo this Yuletide.

Named after the age she was when she married charity boss Simon Konecki, 30 delves into the aftermath of their divorce. An album full of bangers, it ain’t.

But what are the critics making of the 12 new tracks?

Independent (4 stars)

“The songs themselves are good. Grounded in pathos, they tend to be handsomely crafted ballads about love and its various agonies – but it’s her vocals that sell them. Between the typical tirades against herself, Adele braids through moments of affirmation... Like a forlorn teenager, across the length of 30, Adele plucks the petals off a daisy but asks a different question: Do I love me? Do I love me not? Where other records have asked for audience participation – for us to fill in the blanks of broad narratives with our own pain – 30 is a conversation between Adele and Adele.” Read the full review…

MailOnline (4 stars)

“The album doesn’t trace the arc of a failing relationship blow by blow. Its tone is determined more by its musical cut and thrust. Its 12 new songs offer a stark contrast to her cheeky offstage persona. In interviews, she can be irreverent. On record, she plays it straight, her inner turmoil no laughing matter... At the heart of it all, of course, is that dazzling, blue-eyed soul voice – emotional without being cloying – and her phrasing is as impeccable as ever here... A barnstorming return.” Read the full review…

The Sun (5 stars)

“Despite much of 30 being devoted to lost love and personal disappointments, it is rarely a challenging ­listen. The album invites listeners to better understand her emotions, with low moments interspersed with enough up-tempo beats to prompt involuntary head nodding and toe-tapping reminiscent of some of her earlier fan favourites.” Read the full review...

The Times (4 stars)

“Adele’s voice remains remarkable: pure and unaffected, with that extremely rare ability of hers to convey big drama, small intimacy and throwaway humour all at once. And there is nothing here that offends or jars, no blatant attempts to jump on trends, no streaming numbers-aware collaborations with big rappers or pop stars... Instead Adele has headed for an old-fashioned sound that recalls the golden age of Hollywood, with Disney film orchestrations, busy jazz chords, churchy organ swells and Barbra Streisand-style displays of vocal prowess.” Read the full review (££)...

Adele, 30 (Photo: Columbia)
Adele, 30 (Photo: Columbia)

The Telegraph (5 stars)

“The songs are powerhouse, the performances bravura, the emotions intense as the British superstar wrings every last drop of heart and soul from tear jerking ballads and triumphalist pop... Grappling with guilt, shame and insecurity over her recent divorce yet infused with a life-affirming sense of liberation, self-forgiveness and burgeoning new romance, Adele Adkins has made what might just be the most potent everywoman album since Carole King’s 1971 classic Tapestry. Or at least since Adele’s own 2011 world-beating classic, 21” Read the full review (££)...

Evening Standard (4 stars)

“In the new music there’s a sense that she doesn’t know what’s next or how to handle it. As she sings, the biggest musician in the world frequently sounds extraordinarily vulnerable. It no longer sounds like she’s making music to achieve towering sales figures... At times, her fans will wonder why someone who has guarded her privacy so fiercely has shared some of these nakedly despairing songs at all.” Read the full review...

Variety

“There’s a bracing maturity in these 12 tracks that’s more emotionally complex and intriguing than the rather more easy-to-follow woe of the preceding three collections. And although 30 is at times the rawest and most sobering of the records she’s made to date, it also manages conversely to be the most fun, in its emotionally rattling fashion, as Adele mixes it up with an array of producers and stylistic pastiches to arrive at something that has a sense of play to go with all the sadness and self-laceration.” Read the full review…

NME (3 stars)

“This devastating level of honesty means that, despite its more experimental moments, 30 still winds up feeling like trademark Adele, in its own way, most of the time... And after fair accusations of playing it safe musically in the past, it’s refreshing to see the pop titan treading braver territory – even if the hit-rate isn’t 100 per cent.” Read the full review…

Rolling Stone (5 stars)

“She’s never sounded more ferocious than she does on 30 - more alive to her own feelings, more virtuosic at shaping them into songs in the key of her own damn life. 30 is the best Adele album yet.” Read the full review...

30 is released on 19 November.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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