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eternal sunshine review

Review: Ariana Grande explores post-divorce life and controversy with new album ‘eternal sunshine’

Her first album since 2020 showcases stellar pop and R&B

Ariana Grande returned, almost four years after her last project, with her seventh studio album “eternal sunshine” on March 8. 

Critics have been loving the album since its release, with Rolling Stone calling it “a gorgeously exposed journey” and the New York Times saying Grande “spins heartbreak into gold.” Fans were quick to jump to X (formerly Twitter), to call “eternal sunshine” her best work yet. 

The 13-track album is inspired by the 2004 romance/science fiction film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” which is about erasing an ex-lover from your memory to ease the pain of heartbreak. 

The album features the dance pop-esque single, “yes, and?” and Grande’s newest single, “we can’t be friends (wait for your love).” The first single, released in January, “yes, and?” is an anomaly while the rest of the album shares similarities with Grande’s previous R&B-focused album “Positions.” The songs feature mid-tempo synths, strings and muted guitar. 

The album starts off with the string-heavy “intro (end of the world),” where Grande questions if she’s in the right relationship. Track two, “bye” is a sassy pop breakup anthem with a simple chorus proclaiming “Bye bye, boy bye, it’s over.”

Track three, “don’t wanna break up again” talks of a situationship that Grande keeps coming back to but knows she shouldn’t, and the “Saturn Returns Interlude” features the voice of astrologer Diana Garland explaining the concept of a Saturn return, a cycle that takes about 29.5 years to complete. Garland says that when you reach that age, “it’s time for you to get real about life and sort out who you really are.” 

The rest of the album continues with themes of breakup, heartbreak and self-discovery. 

The title track, “eternal sunshine” refers to an unfaithful lover. Some speculate that this is about Grande’s ex-husband Dalton Gomez, whose relationship ended for unknown reasons. “i wish i hated you” and “we can’t be friends (wait for your love)” also discuss the emotional toll of a breakup. 

Despite this being her first album since 2020, Grande has been spotlighted for controversies recently.

Multiple songs on the album address the gossip, such as “true story,” “the boy is mine” and “yes, and?” Dreamy love songs are sprinkled throughout the album as well, including “supernatural,” “ordinary things” and “imperfect for you.” 

After landing a lead role as Glinda in the movie adaptation of “Wicked” (set to be released this November), she started dating co-star Ethan Slater, who was married with kids prior to his relationship with Grande. Grande was slammed for being a “homewrecker,” though the relationship timeline is unclear, and conflicting versions of the story have circulated around the internet. 

Emboldened, Grande’s evolution as an artist has especially come to fruition on “eternal sunshine.” 

While the singer is mostly rooted in pop, she has dabbled in other genres like hip-hop and, more recently, R&B. Both her previous album “Positions,” and “eternal sunshine,” have been lauded as R&B hits, and her soft, but powerful vocals shine through in this excellent body of work. 

The closing track “ordinary things” features Grande’s grandmother’s voice to end the album. She says that if you can’t go to bed without kissing your lover goodnight, “You’re in the wrong place, get out.” 

This answers the question Grande asks in the first line of the album, where she wonders how to tell if she’s in the right relationship, bringing the album concept full circle from beginning to end. 

The standout tracks of “eternal sunshine” include: “bye,” “we can’t be friends,” and “yes, and?” but it really shines as a concept album which deserves a full listen-through to get the full experience of what Grande is trying to convey. 

This article was edited by Marina Zaczkiewicz, Sara Winick and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing by Luna Jinks and Charlie Mennuti.

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