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‘eternal sunshine’ Album Review: A Familiar Reverie

4 Stars

"eternal sunshine" was released on March 8.
"eternal sunshine" was released on March 8. By Courtesy of Ariana Grande / Republic Records
By Michael F. Bido, Contributing Writer

“Eternal sunshine” is Ariana Grande’s highly anticipated seventh studio album, released on March 8. While the album is not groundbreaking and feels somewhat typical for Grande, her elevated lyricism combined with cohesive production creates an emotional and exciting listening experience. “Eternal sunshine” is a shorter album than Grande’s previous work like “Positions” or “Dangerous Woman”, yet each track feels intentional and adds something new to the experience. Ariana leads listeners to dance, cry, and reflect — sometimes all at the same time. “Eternal sunshine” features Grande’s expected stunning vocals and pop production, and while far from revolutionary, Grande has clearly elevated her musical and lyrical depth with her new album.

“Eternal sunshine” is not a homogenous album, featuring clean transitions and cohesive production that feels highly intentional. The lead single “yes, and?” features an EDM/house-inspired beat behind her typical pop vocals and lyrics. The single surprised listeners and led many to believe the album would follow suit. However, when listening to the album in totality, “yes, and?” feels like an outlier in comparison to the more melodic tracks. Additionally, “true story” features a rather R&B-influenced background track that serves as a refreshing break from the heavy pop instrumentals. Despite the two rather unique sounding tracks, “eternal sunshine” has strong ties to her previous album “Sweetener,” featuring similar dream-like sounds and staying well within the pop genre.

While it may be difficult to make generalizations about this thematically diverse album, Grande reflects on current and previous relationships, opening up about the difficulty she faces protecting her feelings. In the well-loved track “i wish i hated you”, she draws on the relatable experience of the disparities between how one wants to feel versus how one truly feels. Grande states, “No matter how easy things could be if I did / And no matter how guilty I still feel saying it / I wish I hated you.” Furthermore, in the second chorus, listeners are able to hear her voice crack and sniffle which one can assume is Grande crying while singing. Rarely heard in mainstream music, this raw vocal decision truly stands out and adds to the depth and honesty Grande conveys throughout the song and album.

“Saturn Returns Interlude” is an atmospheric and dynamic moment that leads into the introspective title track. Almost like someone trying to wake Grande up from a trance, the interlude serves as a turning point in the album. Voiced by Diana Garland, the lyrics “it’s time for you to get real about life / and sort out who you really are / wake up,” demonstrate how Grande realized she needs to become more realistic in her life and relationships.

Drawing on the interlude, the title track of the album “eternal sunshine” is a reference to the popular movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” which focuses on the power of memory — battling between erasure and acceptance of the past. With the lyrics “I found a good boy and he’s on my side / You’re just my eternal sunshine,” Grande suggests that despite the pain, she grew from her previous relationship and values the lessons she learned.

In divergence from the introspective songs, “eternal sunshine” also features upbeat tracks that balance fun and danceability through its bold lyrics and fresh production style. In the prideful and outright fun track “bye,” Grande reflects on the end of her relationship and talks about learning from her loved ones after parting ways with the past. Furthermore, in the lead single “yes, and?,” Grande undoubtedly expresses her growth in a self affirming mindset — being unapologetic about her decisions despite external opinions. With lyrics such as “Now, I’m so done with caring / What you think, no I won’t hide/ Underneath your own projections / Or change my most authentic life,” Grande makes it clear she is done trying to please others. While the heavier songs shine more than the more light-hearted songs, Grande plays into a diverse range of energy levels that adds depth to the album.

“Eternal sunshine” feels like a breath of fresh air and is reminiscent of waking up from a dream, as Grande delivers a sonically cohesive album that may not feel brand new but is far from sounding tired. While there are certainly high energy portions of the album, the delicate and emotional moments truly shine and make this work a standout album. Grande touches on themes of self acceptance, reflects on previous relationships, and leads listeners through an emotional journey from dance breaks to crying sessions. Grande’s newest album “eternal sunshine” may feel familiar but is undoubtedly elevated from previous work in terms of lyrics, production, and depth.

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