Almost a year after the ground-breaking release of “Thank U, Next,” Ariana Grande has returned with her sixth studio album, titled “Positions.” Grande’s pre-release single, also by the same title, is initially a bit of a grower, but rightfully so. It gives you a taste of what to expect, an imprint especially indicative of the second half of the album. With the album’s highly anticipated release on Oct. 30, “Positions” could not have come at a better time for avant fans, casual and referential listeners. Grande’s newest body of work is filled with sweet, melodic tunes, humorous quibs and much more. She seems to be in full creative control with this album, as she knows exactly what she wants and gets it done.
Grande has a tendency to lyrically reminisce and tie newer albums to previous albums. Through her album’s lyrics, she comes from a place of honesty and sincerity, and embodies transparency and resiliency. Grande’s words are relevant to her not only as an artist, but as a human being — reflective and representative of her current life — as she also partook in writing songs for this album. The majority, if not the whole album, is vocally produced by Grande — a job well done, might I add! The result are songs in similarly-sounding keys, cohesive and coherent enough to flow and blend well together, that the latter half of the album emanates a leveraged R&B sound so euphonious that it becomes almost unrecognizable when the album begins and ends (and trust me, you won’t want it to).
With a playing time of 41 minutes, “Positions” is relatively and reasonably brief, keeping you wanting more. (I listened to it one night, the next day and again the day after.) The song lyrics are significant in conveying Grande’s life, a story of experiencing heartbreak and loss, being afraid to take that next step with love and questioning your self-worth, brushing off the haters and allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to let your hair down (no pun intended), all the while owning and relishing within your femininity and sexuality. The instrumentals (cue the violins) heard in the first half of the album are so intrinsically well done that I could not imagine listening to the songs without them. Her vocal tone speaks volumes, exuding authenticity in her raspiness. Grande brings about lyrical variety, with topics centering upon, love, life, intimacy and the power of manifestation.
Contrary to those who have stated “Positions” is “Thank U, Next 2.0,” or that she needs to return to experimenting with her sound comparably to “Sweetener,” I believe this is the R&B (albeit labeled Pop) album and sound Grande always wanted. “Positions” has the potential to achieve the same commercial success/virality as its predecessor (as of now, “Positions” is Grande’s fifth album to debut #1 on the Billboard 200), and it is a body of work that has its own distinct sound, color and feel, promotes/speaks for itself and can stand on its own. It is surely a step in the right direction.