By: Timothy Coffman, Columnist
Featured image courtesy of Republic Records
Ariana Grande is one of the premier pop voices to come out in the past five years and her new release, “Sweetener,” is her latest record following the massively successful “Dangerous Woman” back in 2016. This is my first go around with a full album by Grande; that isn’t to say that I haven’t heard most of her songs constantly on the radio and Spotify. The one thing which has remained consistent throughout each of her albums is her voice, which is a standard pop voice but with the power of old school divas like Mariah Carey and the late Aretha Franklin.
The album starts off with the snippet “raindrops (an angel cried),”which is acapella to show that her trademark vocals have not gone anywhere. The rest of the album follows with some standout tracks such as “blazed,” with great assistance from Pharrell, as well as the single “God is a woman,” which has one of the stronger choruses on the entire album. Many listeners will also note some more adult themes on the record, showing how Grande has come a long way since her beginnings on Nickelodeon. However, that does not mean that the traditional pop balladry has gone anywhere, with some of the best cuts coming at the end of the record with “better off,” “goodnight n go,” and “get well soon.” Also the single “no tears left to cry” holds up as the standout single from the record, while also being the only track on the album without the explicit warning advisory.
While I found myself enjoying a lot about this record, some songs left me with a lot to be desired. While I enjoyed Nicki Minaj’s guest verse on “the light is coming,” the rest of the song comes off rather uninspired. I feel that the times the album falls short are due to production choices. Luckily, in those cases, Ariana’s voices is still able to give the song a leg to stand on. Another drawback is some of the lyrics, which can get a bit trite by pop standards with innuendos that are a little too obvious. And while I enjoy the snippet song “pete davidson,” it does seem like an attempt to simply draw attention to Ariana’s recent engagement to the entertainer of the same name.
Overall, I think that this album is pretty good, but it does feel a tad lopsided in places. Once the listener has settled into a groove, a song will come that is either boring or suffering from weak production. However, I would not look over this record if you are a fan of Ariana Grande. From someone who is just starting to dive into her catalogue, this record was a pleasant listen, if not a touch spotty in places.