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From the first second, Sweetener immediately feels special. The pop singer opens with a heavenly ode to those who lost their lives in last years tragic bombing in Manchester with a cover of The Four Seasons’ “An Angel Cried.” Although Grande’s version is redesigned to evoke more emotion; it feels so real.“When raindrops fell down from the sky, the day you left me, an angel cried, oh she cried, an angel cried” after listening to this, it’s hard not to get emotional.
It’s true that Sweetener feels different from the rest of Grande’s discography. It’s not as pop as Dangerous Woman, and not quite as cheeky as Yours Truly. Hip-hop/R&B beats remain but seem elevated, choppier, and more delicately placed. One thing that never changes is her voice. Every song feels like a greeting at the pearly gates; a full choir all in one little girl. Mastermind, Pharrell Williams had a strong hand in the overall production of this album, which you hear directly on the spunky fresh “Blazed.” It feels as though Ariana made sure to handle each song with care. She kept Sweetener real, fun, and honest. Going through a tragedy, a public breakup, and a quick engagement can surely provide an immense amount of content to feed off of.
Speaking of love… Sweetener basically waves a big bright flag saying, “I’M IN LOVE.” From the self-explanatory ode to fiancé “pete davidson” to the flirty “goodnight n go,” and even the cliche TV commercial-esque “sweetener.” Ariana is SMITTEN, and we can tell. “Boy, you’re such a dream to me” in the sparkly “R.E.M” pretty much sums up her feelings about her current love life.
Although this album proves to be fun and dance-y, there’s no shortage of tough topics. “better off” stands out as the singers most mature and heartfelt track on the album. Grande’s voice takes on a lower range as she explores a failing relationship with the urge to leave. While “breathin” and “get well soon” deal with anxiety and self-love head on. Both quickly pull at the heartstrings followed by layered vocals and amplified melodies in shiny perfected harmony.
Sweetener feels beautiful and influential all at once.