Review: Adele – ‘When We Were Young’


One of Adele's maturest efforts to date; 'When We Were Young' is a beautifully understated exploration of nostalgia, delivered in the classiest manner possible.

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The second single from Adele’s already massively popular, chart-storming third album 25 continues the mature vibe set out by ‘Hello’, but with a far more understated elegance. ‘When We Were Young’ is never going to be the sort of track radio-listeners bark from their windows, or excitable clubbers get overly emotional chanting the lyrics to; it’s a much more somber and self-reflective effort, but one that is just as powerful as not just its predecessor, but anything Adele has released to date.

Whereas the British songstress’s vocal range has rarely been as powerful as it is here, it’s also incredibly important to note that ‘While We Were Young’ is far from a flashy song. It’s a deeply soulful ballad that never breaks character to show off for any reason. Instead, Adele sticks to a much more intimate and personal tone, that brings with it a real sense of warmth and closeness.

The lyrics, a journey through the very basics of nostalgia: a romantic lust for what once was but has since gone, tune in beautifully with 25’s tremendously emotional and reflective message. This is Adele at the height of her maturity and classiness: she may only now be drifting into her late 20s, but this feels very much like the work of a serious veteran.

‘When We Were Young’ may not ever quite reach the borderline-ridiculous levels of fame that worldwide phenomenon ‘Hello’ managed late last year, but that’s really not the point. This is meant for those quiet, contemplative evenings; it’s a record devoted to the very idea of memory, and in doing so, marks itself as quite possibly 25’s strongest track, and one of Adele’s most impressive singles maybe ever.

‘When We Were Young’ is out now via XL. 


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Former Film Editor, Film graduate and general supporter of all things moving-picture related. Accidentally obsessed with Taylor Swift. Long-time Ellen Page fanboy.

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