Appearing just after her more steamy, sensual album “Dangerous Woman,” the rising star Ariana Grande slows down her good vibes in order to throw her heart on display in her latest pop, love-sick album, “Sweetener.”
Grande may have had the smoothest transition from television to a successful pop career of any modern cultural sensation, and her solo act shows no sign of slowing down with the release of “Sweetener.” With each track offering different tastes of her usual pop-style, there’s a little bit here for everyone. The wildly popular singles Grande initially released prior to the launch of “Sweetener” were clearly just a taste for what fans could expect upon encountering the album’s various sounds.
Starting off with the abridged, smooth a capella cover of “An Angel Cried,” Grande sets out to show that there are plenty of sides to her other than her predominantly fast-paced love songs. “Raindrops” serves as the perfect introduction to this album dedicated to bursting feelings of passion and more than likely displays her feelings for comedian Pete Davidson. “Raindrops” has quickly become a fan-favorite of the album with audiences begging for an iconic full cover of this ancient tune.
Upon the album’s first listen, moving down the track-list is such an effortless, almost mindless task as Grande’s tunes tend to blend together and blur into a story dedicated to evoking high emotions. “Blazed” with Pharrell Williams sets a low bar with a fast beat and infectious lyrics that ultimately cumulate into a song that can be fun to dance to rather than sing. “The Light is Coming” is a less-than-favorable jam featuring the fluctuating Nicki Minaj, and “R.E.M” is best left to the Queen Bey herself rather than Grande’s soft voice.
The true meat of the album begins with her single “God is a Woman.” Grande finally bursts from her cocoon of romance and emerges as a realized sexual being. Surprisingly explicit, even considering the tracks on her previous album, “God is a Woman” is really where “Sweetener” starts to portray Grande as a young, powerful woman in love who’s not afraid or apprehensive about making a spectacle of her passion and sexual desires.
The headliner of the album, “Sweetener,” is the most surprising addition to her discography, to say the least. In this, Grande moves from a powerful, beautifully orchestrated tune to a song that’s indescribable even after its first listen. A song that seems to literally explain how Grande likes “the way he licks the bowl,” “Sweetener” seems to be the perfect follow-up to “God is a Woman.” It provides a similar rhythm behind suggestive, sensual lyrics that continue the hyper-sexual trends of the album.
Every following song is a highlight for their own reasons with only “Borderline” bringing down the album with a generic set of lyrics and rhythms. Fan-favorite “Breathin” shows all the signs of being her next hit, and “Successful” shows the artist bragging about her growing fame while also boosting up the self-confidence of women around the globe. “Better Off” serves as the perfect crescendo before Grande concludes the album with three of the strongest songs she’s released thus far.
At just over three minutes, “Goodnight n Go” feels so short and incomplete, yet it’s packed with woeful emotions that come along with parting ways with someone, whether it’s for one night or forever. Grande fans simply want more of this stand-out tune, but its briefness can’t compare to the one-minute song “Pete Davidson,” a ballad dedicated to her fiancé.
“Pete Davidson” may just be the most beautiful song of the album, and its conciseness seems to build on that blissfulness. With her declaration that he is, in fact, her soulmate, Grande formally addresses her relationship in the most sincere and cordial way while inviting her fans to share in this whirlwind of emotions after a random, life-changing encounter.
Her magnum opus of sorts, “Get Well Soon” is maybe Grande’s finest creation to date. Though it may never make it to mainstream success of her more poppy tracks suited for radio, “Get Well Soon” blends a myriad of sounds and Grande’s styles into a song dedicated to those affected by anxiety and mental illnesses. Just the song’s first verse perfectly captures what it may feel like to be physically here on Earth but floating in a terrifying, unknown space.
As a dedication to those that lost their lives at her Manchester concert, Grande also tacked on 40 seconds of silence, bringing the album to a close with its final tune being five minutes and 22 seconds, the date of the tragic bombing. Much like an intimate lover that wants to comfort a significant other, Grande packs “Get Well Soon” with encouraging lyrics that she hopes will comfort anyone who hears them. In its own way, this wrap up to “Sweetner” is its own separate love letter that can be passed along, no matter the relationship.