Ariana Grande
Eternal Sunshine


3.0
good

Review

by robertsona STAFF
March 9th, 2024 | 115 replies


Release Date: 03/08/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: eternal life is the intersection of the line of time in the plane of now (we live forever)

Ariana Grande’s new album eternal sunshine sounds like celestial bodies bouncing off each other but it’s also not that good, which poses an issue of evaluative categories moreso than your average pop letdown.

Following a trio of excellent albums each pursuing a distinct cluster of sonic ideas and moods, 2020’s Positions, work on which in theory begin after COVID had hit in March, festooned the promenade with elegant strings and sex talk, and that was about it—the album felt like a success in only the most modest terms, and hardly earned the same quantity of replays as its predecessors. eternal sunshine’s debut single, the cheekily titled tabloid clapback anthem “yes, and?”, seemed to add depth to the proceedings—I wouldn’t dare personally give a *** about whatever Ariana does in divorce court or at the local wine bar, but the single excitingly reaffirmed Grande’s bona fides as a deadeye curator of extant pop trends, its vogue-ready riff on RENAISSANCE somehow more appealingly fluid than even my favorites on that album. The lithe mechanical pleasures of “yes, and?” are rendered somehow profound by the twinkling descent of the raveup chorus, even if the hook doesn’t quite justify its jarring silences.

eternal sunshine seemed therefore to promise a more holistic approach to sex/warmth/intimacy and a more focused vision of trap-influenced pop R&B, and in a weird way it delivers: the warm watery guitar chords of “intro (end of the world)”, snuggling up to the surprisingly forceful opening line “How can I tell if I’m in the right relationship?”, are but the first in a bevy of subtle musical flourishes that render eternal sunshine a more, y’know, focused and visionary and appealingly fluid etc. etc. product than was Positions. It feels more like a singular and shapely work of art, perhaps aided by her most concise slate of producers ever, and the tricks up the sleeves of Max Martin, Ilya Salmanzadeh, and David Park are not inconsiderable nor circumscribed by pop conventions: the slowdown that detonates the rhythmic momentum of “the boy is mine” and the haunted titular hoot of the oddly Hannah Montana-ish “imperfect for you” are my favorites, but the overall sense of control counterintuitively evoked by the softly trappy percussion and ethereal synth pads is comprehensive and unmistakable.

But eternal sunshine, at 35 minutes, doesn’t leave much of an impression, its titular statement of pretty regard for memories lost and time regained ultimately registering not as a platform for yearning nor as a vehicle for regret nor as ironic joke nor social commentary but as the broadest possible thread of aesthetic inspiration for pretty regard for such immaterial concepts as memories, time, gain, loss. The songwriting is the main culprit; even Positions’ languorous Weeknd duet “off the table” held more power in the grasp of its panoramic major-key resolution than the average eternal sunshine cut, though it also should be noted that the soft disco ballad “we can’t be friends,” the inexplicable second single, goes off like a dogwhistle, worse than just about any other Ariana Grande song I can name. Breaking down the music to its constituent formal categories doesn’t expose much, either; the album excels at no single thing, is not particularly serviced by its spacey structure, and doesn’t do much to shape an experience for us as we listen, the fascinating “Saturn Returns Interlude” aside.

In the end, eternal sunshine feels somehow fundamentally unambitious and as if it helps to reveal the emptiness of shiny things, the kind of dull chart-topping affair that necessitates pushback from a good shiny thing to achieve pop homeostasis for the hankering listener. Grief, sadness, lust, loyalty—in the sunshine of Grande’s featherweight artistry, they all somehow seem a little bit hazier.



Recent reviews by this author
Jan Jelinek Loop-Finding-Jazz-RecordsBrandy Full Moon
The Sylvers The Sylvers IISol An Varma Sol an Varma
JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown Scaring the HoesSonny Rollins Plus 4
user ratings (97)
3
good
other reviews of this album
Shamus248 CONTRIBUTOR (2)
Ari's Homewrecker Era...

Zo0lz (3)
...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
March 9th 2024


18258 Comments


Yeah middle scores from top tier staffers : ]

Sowing
Moderator
March 9th 2024


43959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Plenty of worthwhile moments on the record, although none of them are as good as "Yes, And?". "Bye" reminds me of "Greedy" from DW, which is a good thing. "We Can't Be Friends" feels very CRJ-esque. "Supernatural" and "Don't Wanna Break Up Again" are what I wish more of her midtempo tracks would sound like. "Imperfect for You" has the kind of creativity she was missing for all of positions. Overall, though, I miss banger Ari. I realize maybe she has greater ambition than just writing a bunch of radio hits, but whatever she's searching for, I don't think she's quite found it. I miss when any new album from her was guaranteed to have 4-5 infectious hits... ever since DW, it's been going slowly downhill. Anyway, I very much agree with the majority of this review. "In the end, eternal sunshine feels somehow fundamentally unambitious and as if it helps to reveal the emptiness of shiny things" is a great way of describing this -- feels very shiny indeed, makes me feel nothing. Say what you want about My Everything and Dangerous Woman, but at least they kept me engaged because they were so fun/energetic. For the past several albums, something about her music has just felt lethargic and homogenous. This is enjoyable and listenable, but not exciting.

mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
March 9th 2024


1783 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This record is very back and forth between some pretty heady sophisticated pop with elements of house/disco and then drops down into the lower echelons of bassy pop tunes. Overall, better than many of her contemporaries but not her best work.

notkanyewest
March 9th 2024


333 Comments


Incredible lede

nol
March 9th 2024


12109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The boy is mine is a bang her

solrage
March 9th 2024


309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

On the upside there's more catchy bops on this one than the last one; on the downside the production for the most part is dull and they still insist on keeping one of the best voices of her generation at a whisper most of the time.

nol
March 10th 2024


12109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

production on this is flawless tf, that’s not the issue at all

nol
March 10th 2024


12109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

and she’s not really mumbling anymore either

GiaNXGX
March 10th 2024


5381 Comments


H&M-core, sadly.. nice review

nol
March 10th 2024


12109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

god fucking dammit for all the poptism bs this site has been on y’all have some questionable tastes in pop

nol
March 10th 2024


12109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

35 minutes is the ideal length of a pop record

nol
March 10th 2024


12109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

not rob he’s cool



this album clears positions tho, you will realize

Colton
March 10th 2024


15302 Comments


rym has much better taste in pop than this site

nol
March 10th 2024


12109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rym-core, sadly.. nice review

PanosChris
March 10th 2024


29 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I would much rather listen to Ariana attempting a house/dance album, given that the lead single leaned that way. Instead, 'yes, and?' awkwardly fits in with the rest of this record.



Mid-tempo R&B and pop has been her bread and butter for years and she has created much better and much more memorable songs and projects within this lane. Even positions as an album has a lot more memorable moments within its tracklist (the aching 'off the table', the slick 'my hair', the bouncy dance-pop 'motive' and the closer 'pov' come to mind). This, on the other hand, feels inconsequential much of the time in terms of production, cohesion and lyricism. Even her vocals on this aren't as strong as previous outings.



'supernatural' and 'the boy is mine' are keepers and maybe the project will grow on me with time, but I doubt it.

JeetJeet
March 10th 2024


12221 Comments


snoozefest pop

JeetJeet
March 10th 2024


12221 Comments


"I would much rather listen to Ariana attempting a house/dance album" [2]
That shit would bang harder than this guaranteed.

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2024


2099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

I find the tepid response on here to be a bit puzzling.



The vocal production on this thing is stellar, like...legitimately some of the best I have heard recently in the pop space. Ariana doesn't really do the Mariah Carey, loud expansive pop thing anymore and I think people are still sorta clamoring for that. But post-Dangerous Woman, she's been doing more of an rnb thing and I think this is the culmination of that effort. I think the lyrics here are the most mature she's ever been, with Ari actually being uncommitted to extreme declarations and fully resigning herself that she doesn't know what the future holds, but she is happy in the moment and that's what she wants to hold on to.



The title track is absolutely arresting. The vocal panning is angelic and stops me in my tracks and the production itself has a lot of interesting layers to it. It also deals with an interesting subject in juggling the newfound happiness with a parter, but still sorta feeling jilted at an ex. Can't say enough good things about "The Boy Is Mine", that pregnant pause in the pre-chorus will no doubt be on the shortlist for best pop moment of the year. "Bye" is a luxurious show-stopper. "Supernatural" is nasty as hell. "True Story" has maybe the stank faciest bass in a pop song in recent memory.



This thing just fuckin rules, but you gotta accept that the Dangerous Woman, belitng pop Ari is long dead and that's fine. The production is a lot more interesting now. This clears Positions and feels like a project that really learned all the right lessons from Sweetener, Thank U, Next, and that album.

Colton
March 10th 2024


15302 Comments


"Ariana doesn't really do the Mariah Carey, loud expansive pop thing anymore"

this is why I have never liked her as a singer

MyMentality
March 10th 2024


1471 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is this Jim Carrey?



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy