On first listen I found this sonically more interesting than the last record, but it was not an easy album to listen too. I heard Adele talking to Zane Lowe about some of the influences on the sound, and I could hear some of Amy Winehouse’s palette reflected here.
I feel like Adele’s earlier records took what were still sad subjects, but somehow transformed them into something that was uplifting and felt like a release. This record, and the last record at its weakest, seems to wallow. I maybe need to listen to it more and see whether it alters for me, and it may … Adele’s voice sounds great, and the arrangements are sonically compelling. I just found the emotion that was being communicated hard to process when stretched to album length.
Records as therapeutic and as release are fine — there are many great albums built with this as the engine — but this seems a little steeped in the therapy. It could be where my head is at during this moment. We will see how the album weathers.