Ariana Grande finds herself in the eye of the storm on her hotly awaited seventh studio album, Eternal Sunshine. Concise, focused and cinematic, it’s a breathless thirty-five minutes telling the story of Grande’s return to Saturn. After intense scrutiny in her early twenties, Grande’s 27th cycle around the sun brought a highly publicised relationship breakdown leading into a new romance. Through music, this is her first true response.

The record borrows its title from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the beloved 2004 film starring Grande’s favourite actor Jim Carrey. Much like the movie, this album fixates on where the lines blur between the past, present and future, and whether memories are worth reliving the pain. Grande lays out the hypothesis in the title track’s whispered ode to “Deep breaths, tight chest, life, death, rewind”. It’s a collection of mellow songs with a retro sound, soft and sweet as honey where Grande stands at peace within an absolute whirlwind of emotions around her.



Like many of her previous records, Eternal Sunshine reels listeners in with a lullaby-esque introduction. ‘intro (end of the world)’ paints a blushing picture of early days in a new relationship, before this mystical beginning explodes into an immediate highlight, the house and disco-influenced ‘bye’. It’s all stabbing synths and layered vocals, with a punchy 70s chorus made all the more magical by Grande’s dreamy ad libs. Telling the story of Grande walking out on a lover, the scene is firmly set for the album’s emotional narrative to unfold.

This album’s first half is gentle and introspective, emphasising the vocal layering Grande attributes to her love of Imogen Heap. ‘supernatural’ features a standout chorus with a slinky bassline, all about a love “possessing” in its interstellar nature. Its final hook feels like an ascent to the heavens, playing into Grande’s past themes of magic and fate. Similarly, ‘don’t wanna break up again’ brings her trademark ethereal vocals to the table, in an honest ode to a “situationship” that can’t seem to settle on a perfect outcome. What stands out amongst all of these hypnotic tunes is that Grande’s work on the Wicked film series has clearly impacted her vocal ability. Her enunciation is clearer than ever, allowing her lyrical depth to shine in its personality and directness. Her range is strong and controlled, moving from effortless whistle notes to airy falsettos or smoky lows.

Pop legend Max Martin, whose work with acts like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys single handedly defined the sound of the turn of the century, flexes his abilities on the 90s numbers ‘true story’ and ‘the boy is mine’. There’s a boy-band-esque style to the punchy rhythms and dark keys. Fans of the infamous leaked track ‘fantasize’ will love this sound for Grande, particularly when she acknowledges the demo’s popularity in the former song’s chorus. With these two standout songs back-to-back, Grande promises “I’ll play the bad girl if you need me to”, a short but effective response to recent criticisms against her character.

Eternal Sunshine maintains a throwback feel to highlight Grande’s nostalgia for her past selves. This theme is reflected on the cover which has us seeing double, the younger Ariana resting her head on the shoulder of her older self. Grande still mixes in her modern trap beats and smooth R&B melodies, particularly on the upbeat airy pop of ‘we can’t be friends (wait for your love)’, where a dancefloor beat pulses beneath the wistful lyricism. And whilst most of the project’s lyrics lean towards the timeless notion of self-love, Grande will drop the occasional slang-filled one-liner to leave you with wide eyes. The infamous ‘yes, and?’ quip of “Why do you care so much whose d*ck I ride?” comes to mind, but the album’s title track also features a dig at an ex with a sense of sexuality made aggressive in its abruptness.




Whilst the overall vibe of the record is calm and soothing, the production offers many inspired quirks throughout to pull back your attention any time you get too comfortable.

Arcade noises litter the title track at the mention of an “Atari”, buried flutes whistle in the depths of the bridge of ‘yes, and?’, ‘the boy is mine’ repeatedly pulls off tempo fakeouts seemingly only for the amusement of surprising the listener. On the angelic love ballad ‘imperfect for you’, the song echoes its own title by tilting the hook on its axis, playing with dissonance unexpected for the key.

The fluttering brass opening to Eternal Sunshine’s grand finale ‘ordinary things’ reminisces in the doo-wop nostalgia of Grande’s now decade-old debut Yours Truly. But unlike Grande’s other albums, which are littered with star-studded collaborations, this is the only feature on Eternal Sunshine, and it’s in safe hands with her one and only Nonna. Answering the album’s opening question of how to know when you’re in the right relationship, Marjorie Grande’s musings on her own love story solidify that this pop songstress can be confident in her place in the world. The album’s final note is Grande’s own sparkling, light laughter, an apt representation of where she finds herself at the end of the intense story.

Eternal Sunshine cherry picks the best moments of Grande’s career so far, from the vulnerability of thank u, next to the pop choruses of My Everything and Dangerous Woman and the experimentation of sweetener. It’s as close to spotless as a pop record, and a mind in eternal sunshine, can be, and a thrilling new step in Ariana Grande’s miraculous pop and personal journey.