The Listener

It was cheap schlock then, and it's expensive schlock now: Adele's 30 reviewed

27 November 2021

9:00 AM

27 November 2021

9:00 AM

Grade: C

The problem I have is that I thought she was pretty awful before — when she was just fat and from Tottenham. Now that she has been marinated in SoCal for six years, she seems to have become even worse: a kind of Meghan Markle with a larynx. It was cheap schlock all the way back then; it’s expensive schlock now — that’s the only difference.

This is her divorce album, her ‘Hollywood’ album, her mature album, her BRAVE album according to her adoring… critics is obviously the wrong word. OK, it starts off with words — ‘I’ll be taking flowers to the cemetery of my heart’ — on the song ‘Strangers By Nature’. If that doesn’t make you blush embarrassedly for her, then what will?


That song, much as one or two others, is Adele pretending she is Nat King Cole and consequently we are intermittently euthanised by cocktail piano and eminently predictable faux-jazz chord changes.

Elsewhere, when she wants to get modern, she puts that accent on common to all English female singers now strutting their stuff,
which is really a bad attempt at being black.

There is, here and there, ungainly autotuning — which I hadn’t expected — and the unconvincing aping of Amy Winehouse (on the half-decent ‘Cry Your Heart Out’, which, frankly, I had). ‘Oh My God’ is as awful as the title suggests, but there is a certain lilt to the 1950s pastiche of ‘Night Parking’.

We have always had landfill MOR dominating the pop charts. The difference is we never before afforded it importance or moment. Why, then, do we now? Why the fuss?

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