When this follow-up to her record-breaking second album “21” was first released, part of me was disappointed. While the songs are solid and have strong melodies, and of course Adele’s voice is compelling and powerful, I felt like there was something missing. While I still hold that perspective I will say that the album is better in retrospect than I remembered: Songs like singles “Hello” and “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” sound crisp and radio-ready, but other tracks like “I Miss You,” “River Lea” and, especially, “A Million Years Ago” play with Adele’s sonic identity in a way that suggests her sound will continue to evolve as the years go on. Nevertheless, there’s no standout track here, no “Set Fire to the Rain” or “Rolling in the Deep,” and it makes it impossible not to unfavorably compare it to its legendary predecessor.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)