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Adele’s fourth album, “30,” just had the year’s biggest debut week, an unsurprising reflection of the power still wielded by the British pop-soul torch singer, who remains the kind of big-tent, multiple-audience pop star that, in the era of algorithmic sorting, is perhaps no longer achievable.
Adele has maintained that position by making music that often felt removed from prevailing trends. But “30” marks some changes, albeit mild ones — production on some songs feels in conversation with contemporary R&B, and her personal life (her recent divorce and journey into motherhood) intersects with her songwriting, which has in the past scanned as more abstract and depersonalized.
On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about Adele’s return, her light gestures to innovation, the intrusion of tabloid reality into her timeless sound, and the productive intersection of a texturally rich voice and a texturally rich life. Also, a few words about the life and work of Virgil Abloh.
Jon Pareles, The New York Times’s chief pop music critic
Jillian Mapes, features editor at Pitchfork
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