(Columbia)
The first single from her divorce-focused new album 30 is quintessential Adele: piano, romantic recrimination, and soaring vocal work

Adele’s statement announcing the release of her fourth album was published on social media earlier this week. In it, the singer doesn’t talk much about music, more about her emotional state during the album’s making, provoked, one assumes, by the breakdown of her marriage: “absolute mess and inner turmoil … consumed by grief”. She compared the album she made amid it to friends coming over with “a bottle of wine and a takeaway” and offering earthy, if astrologically based, advice: “It’s your Saturn return, babes, fuck it.”

It all sounds thoroughly grim, but it also has a hint of reassurance about it for her fans, who come to Adele in record-breaking numbers for relatable heartbreak – the musical equivalent of an old friend in the pub, tearfully relating the latest chapter in their reliably disastrous love life as they demolish a third glass of pinot grigio. For one thing, it underlines that she has fresh heartbreak to write about, which had been an issue with her last album, 25, on which she was forced to rake over the same relationship that had inspired its predecessor for material. For another, her fans might have cause to be alarmed by what the cover of Vogue refers to as “a new look, a new love, a new sound”. How reliably relatable can Adele now be, with her home in LA, her squad of Hollywood A-list pals, her three-times-a-day exercise regime and, the Vogue profile suggests, an employee on hand with a different pair of shoes should the singer want to change out of her heels? It’s a statement that, consciously or otherwise, sends out a message: “Business as usual babes, fuck it.”

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