Ariana Grande is back and better than ever.
Her fourth studio album Sweetener just dropped, and fans, obviously, are in a “state of mind”.
This album has a completely new vibe, yet it is a tribute to her past records. While Dangerous Woman was about embracing her femininity with a sultry and rebellious vibe, Sweetener is all about happiness and growing as a person.
Earlier this year, Grande released lead single No Tears Left to Cry, a perfect comeback to the music world after the Manchester bombing. Her story of resilience and finding happiness in dark times is inspiring to us all.
This theme is evident throughout the whole album. The only ballad in the album is opener Raindrops (An Angel Cried), which is a beautiful metaphor of her mourning. As soon as it ends, though, and Blazed (featuring Pharrell) begins, the record transitions, and the tempo remains consistently upbeat for the remainder of the album.
Grande has developed not only as a singer, but as an artist as well. There’s never been any doubt that she is a powerhouse vocalist, but she doesn’t find the need to constantly belt on this release. With a combination of cleverly mixed background music and layered melodies, her artistry shines through.
She also experiments with electronic effects and beats, and pulls them off effortlessly. Even if you love the viral pop of Side to Side and Problem, this new sound is extremely refreshing. More familiar is the RnB vibe on her collaborations with rap stars Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliott on the songs The Light is Coming and Borderline respectively.
Grande is happy to share some of herself in the record, too. In Pete Davidson, a cute, minute-long interlude, she sings of happiness about being newly engaged, and the dream that is her fiancé of the song's title.
After an overwhelming 13-song ride, we arrive at closer Get Well Soon. Interwoven vocals and soft piano form the RnB vibe of a sincere song about Grande’s anxiety, with a serious message about mental health. As a tribute to the Manchester bombing, there are 40 seconds of silence at the end, taking the song length to 5:22, the date of the incident.
In the end, Sweetener isn’t just an album, it’s a testament to Grande’s strength and resilience, despite everything she’s been through.
For anyone missing her preppy pop sound, there are always her three fantastic earlier albums to listen to. But Sweetener is Grande’s most mature and sophisticated record by far, which only solidifies her path to becoming a musical legend. We can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.