Our Take: Ariana Grande Stays Bright and Brilliant on ‘Eternal Sunshine,’ Her Intimate & Vulnerable 7th Album

Ariana Grande 'Eternal Sunshine' © Katia Temkin
Ariana Grande 'Eternal Sunshine' © Katia Temkin

Josh's Take

10 Music Quality
9 Sonic Diversity
7 Content Originality
8 Lyricism
8 Memorability
9 Arrangement
‘Eternal Sunshine,’ Ariana Grande’s first album since the pandemic, finds her singular, powerful vocals laid atop glossy beats as effectively as ever, with everything that’s been on her mind post-divorce laid bare as well.
Stream: ‘Eternal Sunshine’ – Ariana Grande

When we last were served with an Ariana Grande album back in fall 2020, the singer was one of many to demonstrate that, even though it was quite the crummy year in every other respect, at least good new music was still coming out – although corresponding live performances would have to wait.

It’s been a rough three-plus years of limited new Grande tunes since then – although that may just be because we’d just become a little bit spoiled over the preceding two-plus years, during which time she’d put out no less than three new LPs. But now that she’s back with a new one – and now that over 10 years have gone by since she first branched off from Nickelodeon and established herself as a solo star – it’s time for her to be certified as the rare artist that can endure as a cultural icon and dependable hitmaker for a solid decade and counting. 

Eternal Sunshine - Ariana Grande
Eternal Sunshine – Ariana Grande

With Eternal Sunshine – a nod to pretty much the lone non-comedy in Jim Carrey’s catalog, which is uncoincidentally celebrating its 20th birthday this month – Ariana Grande consistently demonstrates just where her longevity in the industry has come from. The easiest answer: those enduringly incredible pipes of hers, which dazzle at every turn throughout the record’s brisk 35 minute runtime. Her ever-intimate and delicate vocal delivery is an undeniable strong suit of Eternal Sunshine.

Another key ingredient to Grande’s long-lasting success has been the impressive industry connections she’s acquired over the years. Top-notch production has accordingly always been a strong suit on Grande’s albums, and that continues on Record #7. Max Martin, who’s been a surefire producer for about as long as his current client has been alive, emerges as the true MVP in that department. He’s been a close Ariana Grande collaborator for a solid 10 years now, and he’s been entrusted with producing 11 of these 13 new tracks.

Ariana Grande © Katia Temkin
Ariana Grande © Katia Temkin

Smart decision – Martin’s time-tested compatibility with Grande’s vocal style pays off big time. Lead single “Yes, And?” had already demonstrated that much with its energetic house-pop-ballroom fusion, and the full-length album gives the two of them more space to let their creative chemistry shine from the hypnotic pop-friendliness of “Supernatural” and “I Wish I Hated You,” to more subdued R&B and acoustic fare like “True Story” and “Imperfect for You.”

Martin’s fellow Swede, ILYA (who helped deliver one of Grande’s earliest hits, “Problem”), and a number of other beat-making talents further provide this album with plenty of sonic strength. 

In case you haven’t noticed
Well, everybody’s tired
And healin’ from somebody
Or somethin’ we don’t see just right
Boy, come on, put your lipstick on
(no one can tell you nothin’)

Come on and walk this way through the fire
(don’t care what’s on their mind)

And if you find yourself in a dark situation
Just turn on your light and be like
“Yes, and?”
Say that shit with your chest, and
Be your own fuckin’ best friend
Say that shit with your chest
Keep movin’ like, “What’s next?”
“Yes, and?”

Eternal Sunshine doesn’t represent radically different lyrical terrain for Ariana Grande – nor does it necessarily need to.

For that, read: You’ve heard her sing about breakups before, and you can trust that there will be another round of that coming up. Only this time, she’s gone through an even more major type of breakup – her 2021 divorce from Dalton Gomez after a mere two years of marriage – and that experience has visibly colored her penmanship.

Didn’t think you’d lose me, now it’s just too late to choose me,” she sings early on with “Bye.” “So, I grab my stuff. Courtney just pulled up in the driveway. It’s time.”

In the songs that follow, Grande details her attempt to move on from that messy affair (“I try to wipe my mind just so I feel less insane”), and ultimately concedes that it probably can’t be done (“Baby girl, it’s just me and you… I’ll wait until you love me again”).

Maybe it’s not the most innovative songwriting fare that she could have come up with, but those are the themes that have dominated her experiences the most throughout the interim since her last LP. Ultimately, structuring her comeback record around said subject matter works out just fine. 

Ariana Grande 'Eternal Sunshine' © Katia Temkin
Ariana Grande ‘Eternal Sunshine’ © Katia Temkin

For those who tune in to the “slightly deluxe” edition of this album on Spotify, an additional 12 minutes of fun lie in store.

Australian singer Troye Sivan, who previously collaborated with Grande on 2018’s “Dance to This,” re-teams with her on the remix to “Supernatural,” which adds considerable flair to what was already one of the most popping tracks on the main disc. Plus, the remix to “Yes, And?” marks a memorable showdown between Grande and fellow vocal powerhouse, Mariah Carey. And lastly, it’s nice to see “Imperfect for You” and “True Story” get a new instrumental treatment (acoustic and a capella, respectively).

The bottom line is that this is a beautifully sung and expertly produced record, and it’s great to have one of the defining pop stars of the 2010’s reassert herself in the current decade. Eternal Sunshine is sure to glow powerfully for the foreseeable future.  

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:: stream/purchase Eternal Sunshine here ::
:: connect with Ariana Grande here ::

— — — —

Eternal Sunshine - Ariana Grande

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? © Katia Temkin

eternal sunshine

an album by Ariana Grande

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