Quick review - Two albums not to buy: Adele - 21 & James Blake - Self Titled
Seemingly, you couldn't get more different than James Blake's self titled debut and the new Adele album, 21. But in fact they have a lot in common. They're thoroughly mediocre albums covered up by "gimmicks".
In Blake's case, its the stark voice with odd phrasing and eclectic instrumentation. The album is very weird, but somehow not interesting. A lot of people will mistake this for profundity. It's not, it's just weird, yet boring music. A rare feat indeed, but rare for good reason, nobody wants to make music like this, and perhaps nobody should.
Adele covers over an album of thoroughly boring songs with an amazing voice. Call it Whitney Houston syndrome, an all world vocal talent that can outright stop you flat on your feet with the right song, that is unfortunately condemned to singing songs that a singer with a lesser voice would recognize as near awful. I give her credit for trying to write her own songs, but just give it up dear. Find a really brilliant songwriter and write maybe 1-2 of your own songs. 19 showed promise that she may one day become a good songwriter, 21 showed that she probably doesn't have it in her. Chin up though darling, neither did Aretha Franklin, she just had the good sense not to try.