• Record Label: XL
  • Release Date: Feb 22, 2011
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Jan 27, 2011
    100
    21 is simply stunning. After only a handful of plays, it feels like you've always known it.
  2. Jan 27, 2011
    100
    Atkins makes the material sound genuine, largely because it is perfect for her. Where previously her slight, observational songs seemed barely able to carry her powerful voice, the emotional and musical heft of these styles enables her to really spread her vocal wings.
  3. Feb 28, 2011
    91
    The songs hold to simple instrumentation and simple structures that allow Adele's raspy, expressive voice to develop the story in the verses before she delivers the hook.
  4. 91
    At times, Adele's precocious talent feels prematurely aged by her material, and moments of levity are hard to find. But at its best, 21 is that rarest pop commodity: timeless.
  5. Mar 4, 2011
    90
    There's not a slacker in the bunch on 21, which is hard enough for many an artist to pull off at 31 – or even 51 – much less at an age when they're still too young to rent a car on their own
  6. Jan 27, 2011
    90
    Adele is sincere, poignant and affecting throughout; the emotive 'Someone Like You' closes the album magnificently.
  7. Jan 27, 2011
    90
    If Adele's debut '19' marked her out as a young chanteuse with a booming voice, her follow-up '21' has shown a maturity in her songwriting that makes her the de facto authority when it comes to soundtracks to broken hearts.
  8. Jan 27, 2011
    90
    21 really is one of the great 'break-up' albums, and the first truly impressive record of 2011. Here is a timely reminder that British soul hasn't lost its mojo.
  9. Jun 14, 2011
    80
    Hearing a voice that grows scratchy and threatens to break and has not been tampered with, has not been slicked over in a studio, a voice that reveals all that can be found within a person and also seems to hold something back, to suggest another truth just behind the veil.
  10. Mar 31, 2011
    80
    Here's hoping that if Adele ever finds true love, she doesn't lose her ability to so convincingly channel heartbreak.
  11. Mar 2, 2011
    80
    On 21, she sounds refreshed and poised to attack.
  12. Mar 1, 2011
    80
    There's a slightly scattershot quality to 21 that suggests that Adele is not quite the mistress of her own destiny. Greatness is tantalizingly within reach, though; perhaps she just needs to grab the wheel, and quickly. [Feb 2011, p.106]
  13. Feb 25, 2011
    80
    21 is just a logical, major label extension of her girl-ish, diary-dream optimism.
  14. Feb 24, 2011
    80
    21 probably isn't the best album Adele has in her, but it just might make her famous enough to finally be a pain in the ass.
  15. Feb 22, 2011
    80
    Mostly, though, 21 sounds as though it was built around Adele's presence.
  16. Feb 7, 2011
    80
    If you're looking for a record that'll make you wanna trash your beloved's belongings and have make-up sex amid the ruins, 21's your jam.
  17. Jan 27, 2011
    80
    Adele and her team have crafted an album that's both full of songs that have the potential to reach the upper reaches of the charts, and also a collection of songs that hang together as an album.
  18. Jan 27, 2011
    80
    A progressive, grown-up second collection, it ought to ensure Adele is around for 23, 25, 27 and beyond.
  19. Feb 23, 2011
    75
    It's best to focus on the sheer sonic splendor of Adele's voice set against some dramatic arrangements, especially the rumbling regret of Rolling in the Deep and the piano-based melancholy of Turning Tables.
  20. Feb 22, 2011
    75
    Overall, 21 shows that Adele, now 22, is towering in the same landscape where some of her contemporaries, beehived or not, have lost all their bearings.
  21. 70
    On her sophomore album, 21, Adele channels real emotion and blasts through sincere ballads and angry rockers with few missteps.
  22. Apr 7, 2011
    70
    Her sound is undeniably more mature than what you would typically expect from a 21-year-old, but tracks like "Don't You Remember" make you wonder if the overall vibe is more mature than it should be.
  23. Feb 28, 2011
    70
    Sometimes the additional flourish comes from Adele herself, who is a forceful enough singer, so confident with her agony, that she can bend words into new shapes without losing their meaning.
  24. Feb 23, 2011
    70
    The best thing the album does is to showcase Adele's titanic vocal ability, which -- more than a few times on 21 -- is simply spine-tingling.
  25. Feb 18, 2011
    70
    The woman is mutable, sometimes to a fault: Her cover of the Cure's "Lovesong" is a nice idea lost in bossa nova fluff. But when the grooves are fierce, Adele gives as good as she gets.
  26. Feb 1, 2011
    70
    For all of her posturing and ruminations on life, love and other such considerations, you may well ask yourself whether she is merely playing a part and recycling old themes or if she has the experience she so eloquently sings about.
  27. Apr 20, 2011
    60
    The Brit School girl undergoes a successful soul-pop makeover. [Feb. 2011, p. 108]
  28. Mar 4, 2011
    60
    Adele's husky, powerful voice is what keeps you listening, but here's hoping she experiences something besides betrayal before writing her next record.
  29. Feb 22, 2011
    60
    For most of 21, she's cast as a fortress of old-school soul besieged by lifeless jingles, a force of nature restrained by multiplatinum fetters.
  30. 60
    The Auto-Tune and teenage love stuff don't entirely ruin a surprisingly weighty return.
  31. There's no "Chasing Pavements"-style killer, but she has murdered the Cure's "Lovesong" using Heart FM-friendly jazz-lite as her weapon.
  32. Feb 23, 2011
    50
    If 21 feels, on the whole, like an object lesson in how to indulge in easily avoided mistakes, the most trenchant criticism of the album comes not from anything that will end up being written about it, but rather from its final song.
  33. Feb 1, 2011
    40
    Adele is repeatedly cast as the heartbroken survivor. That role serves to foreground her mighty impressive vocals, but also encourage the showboating overkill that is a staple of the X Factor generation. [Feb 2011, p.79]
  34. 40
    Things begin well enough with the single "Rolling in the Deep", with its thumping piano quadruplets and gospelly backing vocals, and continues reasonably with the galumphing Tom Waits-style arrangement of "Rumour Has It"; until, two-thirds of the way through the song, it grinds to a halt for a slower, torchy middle eight.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 401 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 81 out of 108
  2. Negative: 19 out of 108
  1. May 29, 2011
    2
    I have absolutely no clue what all the fuss is about. 3 good songs. Overplayed TRIPE.
  2. Nov 20, 2011
    3
    I don't understand a single person who could survive listening to all 11 tracks on the album. It's all pretty much about the same thing, love,I don't understand a single person who could survive listening to all 11 tracks on the album. It's all pretty much about the same thing, love, break up, depressing and all the rest of it. On on album you expect variety but this one. Just the same track repeated over and over with different lyrics. If you wanna listen to depressing screeches for 48:12 straight go ahead and pick up a copy of 21. If you want variety. Forget it. Full Review »
  3. Apr 9, 2011
    3
    Boring as hell. Rolling in the Deep is a really nice song, but the rest are so boring. She has a beautiful voice and she could do so muchBoring as hell. Rolling in the Deep is a really nice song, but the rest are so boring. She has a beautiful voice and she could do so much better with it, Full Review »