Adele has stumbled across a top notch formula for her music. With ballad after ballad topping the charts across the world, there’s no denying that her soulful voice and relatable compositions make a great fit for many listeners around the world. That also means it’s no surprise that she opted to once again release something sombre and nostalgic like When We Were Young instead of a more upbeat song from her latest album 25.
On the surface, When We Were Young reads like your typical Adele track. A sparse piano intro slowly builds into additional elements and stronger percussion before leading into a final glistening chorus; drenched in nostalgia, enhanced by Adele’s performance. It largely hits all the right notes for a successful Adele track, but suffers from a few smaller issues—namely the pre-chorus coming all too quickly. It blends into the verses in a way that hides them from existence, which works perfectly fine for the initial, near-acoustic chorus, but becomes confusing and frustrating as the song starts to stack layers upon layers—a production move that almost drowns the emotional core of the song in a sea of reverb.
The song doesn’t suffer too badly from any of this, though. It’s still as enchanting as anything Adele has had to offer from 25 so far, and is a fitting song to follow on from Hello as a single: subtler, even in its overproduced state, and a heartfelt change of pace. Whether it was your top choice for the second single or not, When We Were Young definitely gets the job done.