I’ll be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart: Adele’s 30 ★★★★

By Natasha Porter

I’ll be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart” – the first lyric we hear is a perfect representation of Adele’s fourth studio album. 30 builds on her previous work with similar themes of romantic loss and heartbreak alongside her trademark floating melodies and personal lyrics. Adele persuaded Spotify to remove the automatic shuffle button from album pages, nudging the tracks to be played in order. She tweeted: “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason. Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended.” And it makes sense – the album doesn’t allow you to invade Adele’s story at random points; you must embark upon this journey with her.

The album begins with “Strangers By Nature”, which sounds like a mix between a lullaby and the leading song in an old Hollywood movie – wistful and melancholic. The first single of 30, “Easy On Me”, follows – a song that feels very much like an Adele classic with passionate vocals accompanied by a piano. It is clear to see why this song was released as the first single as it is easily one of the best songs on the album, and encapsulates the themes of the album concisely. “My Little Love”, 30’s third song, controversially contains snippets of Adele’s conversations with her son, an addition that has been described as “uncomfortable” by critics. Despite this, I think these sections add rawness to the album and introduce another layer to the Adele music we are used to hearing. As she explains her woes to her son, listeners are reminded of the harsh impacts of separation beyond the people in it. Similarly, the spoken section in “I Drink Wine” feels like you’re listening to a personal therapy session, highlighting Adele’s mission to create a brutally honest album.

As with many albums, there were some skip songs in the middle, namely “Oh My God” and “Can I Get It” that pale in comparison to the album’s more powerful numbers. Despite this, Adele’s ability to explore different sounds and genres throughout the album kept it varied: no two songs felt similar. “Woman Like Me” and “Hold On” are both anthems for the heartbroken, though “Woman Like Me” deals with the underlying feelings of resentment, whereas “Hold On” instead focuses on the inner turmoil caused by heartache. The album definitely ends on a peak. “To Be Loved”, the penultimate song, is a serious ballad describing the tragic victory of deciding to end a relationship after trying to piece it back together for so long. Adele’s vocal performance on this 6-minute-43-second track was truly impressive. The final song, “Love Is A Game”, would not feel out of place on an Amy Winehouse album with the old soul feel, deep husky vocals, and heartfelt lyrics. In this track, Adele reflects on her previous experiences and expresses a desire to fall in love again. It was a perfect song to end with, the final lyric “I’d do it all again like I did it” giving listeners a sense of hope for the future. If love is a game, it can, in all its tragedies, be played again and again. 

While a very enjoyable listen, 30 does not immediately seem to have the impact Adele’s previous albums had. In spite of this, the diverse and varied tracks in combination with Adele’s unique ability to convey such raw emotion through her voice makes this album definitely worth the wait. Adele’s vulnerability allows us to better understand the highs and lows of life, and the personal spoken conversations littered throughout allow us as listeners to better process our own emotions. The album ends on a clear message of hope for the future. After all the tears, Adele persuades us to find beauty in this game we call love. 

Hi, I’m Natasha! I’m from London and I’m a MSc History of International Relations student. I like to write about music and film. I also enjoy pretending to be a cultural critic by over-analysing reality TV. You can find me on instagram @stopnatasha and by email N.L.Porter@lse.ac.uk 

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