Adele is the music industry’s quintessential Queen of Heartbreak, with thanks to her efforts of providing emotional ballads and powerful anthems to the world’s brokenhearted. Her newly-released third album, 25, is sure to strike yet another personal chord with listeners, and this time around, she may as well be hailed as the Queen of the Quarter-Life Crisis.
Whereas her previous age-based albums, 19 and 21, were all about the ups and downs of love and relationships (with 21 being THE break-up soundtrack of our generation), 25 is more of a make-up album that goes beyond the realm of romance. In 25, Adele reflects back on the actions (and mistakes) made by her younger self and draws on the clarity gained and lessons learned from getting older.
Sound familiar? That’s because Adele has essentially created an album articulating the quarter-life crisis. This is a time well past your coming of age, right at that phase in the middle of your turbulent twenties when you’ve reached the crossroad between adolescent and adulthood, just before you hit that roadblock of a question, “What the hell am I doing with my life?”. Here, you find yourself ruminating over the things you did and the things you didn’t do, your wins and your screw ups, and your (dashed) hopes and dreams, soon realizing that you’re far off from where you envisioned yourself being right now back in your teens.
In chapter 25, Adele channels all of the thoughts and feelings of young adulthood into 11 songs that deal with themes of aging, uncertainty, restlessness, longing, regret, and forgiveness. Track by track, here are the lyrics that can be interpreted in relation to the quarter-life experience.