Jesus Christ, people, Justin Blackburn, Justin fucking Blackburn.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, is ‘Blackburn’ even a surname in America?? It’s such a dour, cold & windy, shovelling-cow-shit-into-a-tractor-just-outside-Durham, depressingly prosaic English name that it really doesn’t fit the glitzy imperialism and Hollywood gunplay of the US. It’s like finding out Shawn Michaels’s real second name is Hickenbottom. Has he ever even been to Blackburn? What are his opinions on Alan Shearer?
Secondly, was there a more arresting, more intentionally obnoxious, more on the nose outraged in 2021 than ‘Unlearning White America’? In the last decade?? You should certainly be able to gauge the general thesis of the record by its splenetic title, but I’m telling you now, you have no fucking idea. It’s important to note that Justin Blackburn is a white American himself, so rather than angrily tearing down the racist power structure that prevents perceived outsiders like himself from even a fair chance, he is on the inside (even more angrily) rejecting the inbuilt privileges that the people who grew up around him receive, refuse to acknowledge and even turn to resentment against the USA’s non white inhabitants. Many of the rage is directed toward Justin’s (diegetic? genuine?) father. All the rage is directed towards white America’s assumptions, inattentiveness and, yes, racism. Justin is so centred on the ridiculous state of race relations in his country that he even goes as far as to manage to make ‘Jesus’ rhyme with ‘racist’.
It can easily be underplayed just precisely how big Adele’s music is, it can seem sometimes that she is single handedly keeping the very concept of recorded music sales afloat. Her last album ’21’ is currently the second best selling album in Britain ever (a trifling 20th in the world, which is hardly worth even getting out of bed for) around 400’000 copies behind ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, though while The Beatles released that album in a time when the competition was fierce, Adele stands now as pretty much the only musical artist who’s selling albums in any considerable weight whatsoever. So ’25’ arrives, intending to charm those same 21.3 million people again, preaching to that converted and perverted market of people who have heard of neither YouTube or Spotify. And by God it sounds like a record aimed squarely at the type of people who would describe their favourite type of music as ‘John Lewis’. I know, I know, Adele’s music was clearly not broke and so it wouldn’t make much (financial) sense to fix it, but still it’s disappointing how safe ’25’ is, you’d hope that Adele would use her untouchability to take a track or two into truly interesting places, instead this album is undeniably well done but depressingly unambitious. Even ’21’s lead single ‘Rolling in the Deep‘ sounds like Scott Walker’s ‘Tilt’ in comparison to the horrified aversion to any sort of experimentation on show here. As the record company’s only sure-fire success left it would be commercial suicide to differentiate it even slightly from it’s behemoth predecessor so what’s left is a soulless hole that will likely leave you cold. It will probably sell another 20 million, and we’ll learn nothing in the process, but at least albums will continue to be financially viable for another 12 months.
‘Fun’ Fact: When Gordon Brown was Prime Minister (honest he was, ask your parents) he wrote to Adele to thank her for keeping the nation’s mood up during the recession, calling her “A light at the end of the tunnel”. I’m sorry, but what the actual suffering fuck?
Is it all as depressingly formulaic as a Formula 1 driver in a Formula boat eating baby formula while chanting ‘In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost? The trinitarian formula you mean? I think that’s a little too obscure a reference. It’s pretty much that bad, yes, though I’d like more songs like ‘(Send My Love) To Your New Lover)‘ that even slightly bend the formula