5 Takeaways From Ariana Grande’s New Album Eternal Sunshine

Nonetheless, Ariana still loves mess

All that said, Grande doesn’t hesitate to play up the perception some people have of her as a “homewrecker” after all the tabloid drama. (“I’ll play the villain if you need me to,” she promises with a wink on “True Story.”) A glance at the tracklist alone raises eyebrows: “Don’t Wanna Break Up Again,” “I Wish I Hated You,” and, most pointedly, “The Boy Is Mine” all scan as diaristic to a fault. On the latter, influenced by Brandy and Monica’s 1998 duet of the same name, she aims for the jugular: “The boy is mine/I can’t wait to try him,” goes its sing-song, memorable chorus, slotting in perfectly alongside Grande’s similarly sarcastic “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored.”

Drawing on R&B and pop from the ’90s and 2000s

Grande is a student of ’90s and 2000s R&B and pop, and Eternal Sunshine centers the sound entirely. Her soaring backing vocals throughout recall Mariah more than ever, a mentor of hers who also appeared on a “Yes, And?” remix last month. “True Story” has a pulsing, “Pony”-esque lope, while Max Martin’s work on the rapturous “Supernatural” veers toward the kind of bright-eyed synth pop with which he made his name. “We Can’t Be Friends,” meanwhile, slips on Robyn-flavored Europop, like a fusion of “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing on My Own” with all the triumphant, crying-in-the-club euphoria Grande can gather.

Is Ariana… enunciating?!

“When I’m singing pop music it sounds like another language,” Grande once joked, referring to her tendency to under-enunciate and blend words together amid all of her lavish vocal runs. For the first time, it seems like she’s rectified that problem on Eternal Sunshine. Her verses come through sharper than ever, ensuring her conversational lyrics are loud and clear, whether on the stomping disco kiss-off “Bye” or the quiet, sweet closing ballad “Ordinary Things.” Maybe it was a conscious shift in her craft, or maybe it was just all that time spent in Wicked world for the past few years. Either way, we’ll take it.

First appeared on pitchfork.com

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