Ariana Grande - Sweetener
I'm gonna be a little more open than usual here. I like Ariana Grande, her version of flawless pop is splendid in the ears. Her voice is damn near perfect when it needs to be with a distinct sound that eludes her counterparts. She flows effortlessly from pop to hip hop through avante garde and back to top 40 cashing massive checks at every stop along the way. That being said, I hate Ariana's now Fiance Pete Davidson. The man is as unfunny as anyone I have ever experienced and I am bewildered daily anyone gives a flying fuck about what He says. Before the first note of this record I was ready to deduct 3 points due to Pete Davidson alone, but then I realized that wasn't fair, so to the best of my ability I am going to give my fair and balanced review of an album with a song titled "pete davidson". Deep Breath, here we go. Sweetener is fucking good. From the first moment it is drenched in 2018, super slick production from the bright and happy Pharrell produced "blazed" to the more darkness soaked "the light is coming". "R.E.M." has this really interesting way of combining an electronically inspired bop and pair it with Ariana singing with an almost doo wop inspired sound. It's absolutely magical and feels warm with the idea of new love. Each new track is a new exploration of pop, but instead of exploring old ideas she's discovering new ones. Every now and again like on "god is a woman" she reminds you the vocal talent is still there with epic runs and control.
She is really great about not forcing her voice onto a track, but instead allowing it to spread like butter over the track. Even on "successful" where Ariana gives herself a chance to flex about her own success she pulls the fans with her, telling them they are successful just like her. It may be trite and somewhat pandering, but it doesn't feel like it, it feels like she's in your corner and wants you to be in hers too. Anthemic songs like "breathin" that are tailor made for you to sing along feel totally natural here and you can picture her filling a stadium with this sound. The 15 tracks absolutely sail by at just over 47 minutes, with very few slow songs to really bring things to a halt. Even "no tears left to cry" which starts as a slow song explodes into a 90s dance bop that fucking cooks. The lyrics can often be a bit basic and focus on love, and the loss thereof, but they are far better than most of what you hear in top 40 today and least Ariana has a perspective that is her own. Someone like Selena Gomez is a nice voice if you don't want someone to know who is singing on your song, that's not the case with Ariana, she owns her shit. I went into this record absolutely ready to hate it, in a major way, but after listening to it my disposition is definitely sweetener. :)
9.1 out of 10