Ariana Grande – Sweetener

August 18, 2018 at 3:02 PM | Posted in Ariana Grande | Leave a comment

sweetener1ALBUM REVIEW
Ariana Grande – Sweetener

1. Raindrops (An Angel Cried)
2. Blazed (feat. Pharrell Williams)
3. The Light Is Coming (feat. Nicki Minaj)
4. R.E.M.
5. God Is A Woman
6. Sweetener
7. Successful
8. Everytime
9. Breathin
10. No Tears Left To Cry
11. Borderline (feat. Missy Elliott)
12. Better Off
13. Goodnight n Go
14. Pete Davidson
15. Get Well Soon

♦ ♦ ♦

sweetener2Sweetener is the third album by American singer Ariana Grande, released on August 17, 2018.

Raindrops (An Angel Cried) is an acapella intro track and it’s a cover of The Four Season’s song ‘An Angel Cried’. Only a little part of the song is used, but it shows off Ariana’s amazing vocals and sets the tone for the album.

Blazed (feat. Pharrell Williams) is bound to become a hit because everything Pharrell touches becomes instant gold. It has his typical sound too with a nice beat and a breezy vibe to it. I like how Ari uses the more husky side of her voice for this one, it makes it a very relaxed track. It’s catchy, not the best from her but a good one.

The promotional single The Light Is Coming (feat. Nicki Minaj) is something I did NOT expect from Ari. Nicki opens the trip/hiphop track with her raps and I have a weak spot for her so I don’t mind at all. Then it goes in a whole other direction and I don’t know whether I find it catchy or annoying. The sample of the male exclaiming ‘You wouldn’t let anybody speak for this and instead!‘ is repeated way too often. Maybe this will grow on me.

R.E.M. keeps the hiphop vibe but moves into a more sultry and sexy vibe. Ariana can do slow jams like no other so this is a welcome change. What really draws attention here is Ari’s layered vocals which always sound good. Other than that, this is just a basic track although not unpleasant.

The album’s second single and a big hit is God Is A Woman, a track filled with confidence, femininity and sexuality. It’s actually the first track on the album that I really like. It has an amazing hiphop/pop arrangement, even some influences of reggae and trap, and that last bit where Ari’s vocals are multiplied so often she sounds like a whole choir makes it magical. I could see myself listen to this more often!

Sweetener, the album’s title track, is an interesting one. At first I thought it would be an uptempo track, but it turns into this hiphop slow jam that fits the previous tracks well. It’s got that ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ vibe going on and the computer game sound effects and the ‘sneezes’ make it a bit quirky (they might have overdone it a bit but at least it’s not a boring track, in fact it’s one of the better ones so far).

It’s nice to hear that Successful is a bit more funky and bouncy. The lyrics are a bit cocky at times, even though it’s meant to be a song of empowerment but it just doesn’t feel like that. It’s a song with a very constant vibe so it’s almost a bit too constant, but in the end the sort of steelpan addition makes it better.

There’s something about Everytime that I really like. It’s another midtempo hiphop/R&B track, reminiscent of the early 00s, but it’s in a very likeable key I haven’t heard that often on the album so far. This is the kind of music I’d love to hear from Ari more.

sweetener3Breathin is the first track that moves the album into another direction with a synthpop approach. I’m instantly attracted to it, perhaps because it’s not that experimental. It has a nice ethereal quality and those layered vocals I love so much.

FINALLY the lead single No Tears Left To Cry is here. The lyrics ‘I’m picking it up‘ get a whole new meaning on the album since she’s actually picking up the general pace with this one. The dance-pop/disco style fits Ari so well and she sounds amazing, which she deserves praise for since this song is about the Manchester Arena bombing and it’s great to hear she can’t be defeated.

Borderline (feat. Missy Elliott) is a fun little track that combines the hiphop style from the first half of the album with the synthpop from the past few ones. Missy’s influence is way too small, but somehow producer Pharrell made the arrangement in a way that makes her presence a bit easier to feel.

Better Off is another nice slow jam and actually one of the oldest songs on the album, and it almost didn’t make the cut. I’m glad it did because it has an interesting arrangement, especially on the chorus, and I like the lyrics (‘If we’re being honest, I’d rather your body than half of your heart‘).

I like how Goodnight n Go features a sample of Imogen Heap’s song with the same name. Ari left enough of the original to be enjoyed, but made it her own with a trap production and and arrangement that is among the best on the entire album. Definitely one of the best tracks.

One moment Ari was in a relationship with Mac Miller, the next she’s enganged to a guy named Pete Davidson. Whatever floats her boat. This is an interlude dedicated to Pete and although it’s short it’s also sweet and happy, filled with strings and a nice beat.

Saving the most emotional track for last, Get Well Soon deals with Ari’s anxiety she experienced after the Manchester Arena bombing. It’s a soulful track with mostly just a piano and fingersnaps, focusing on Ari’s vocals and the lyrics. It’s also a nice support track for her fans and people who have lost loved ones in said attack. Quite a long track, but the album just needed it. Note that the track is followed by 40 seconds of silence for a total running time of 5:22 minutes; the attack happened on May 22.

I hate to say it, but I’m not as impressed by this album as I hoped I would be. No Tears Left To Cry is easily the best song and it soooo does not represent the overall style, which is too bad. Ari experimented with this, but in my opinion she should just stick to what she has always done because that just works best. Many tracks just weren’t that memorable, only a few were catchy or original enough to stand out. It’s still decent, but her previous work is what made me love her, not this.

Favorite songsGod Is A Woman | Sweetener | Everytime | Breathin | No Tears Left To Cry | Goodnight n Go

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarblankstarblankstar
3 stars

sweetener4

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