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Ariana Grande - Positions (Album Review)

Wednesday, 11 November 2020 Written by Milly McMahon

Photo: Dave Meyers

Even by modern pop standards, Ariana Grande is truly prolific. Her sixth studio album, 'Positions', is her third in as many years. Cutting off any accusations of quantity over quality at the pass, it’s also her most stylistically accomplished to date.

Departing from her usual arena-sized anthems, here she compiles an effortlessly cool album that simply flows. This is Ariana doing pure R&B and it sounds impeccable. But with a litany of blockbuster hits already in the bank, this bold shift towards a calmer aesthetic is a risk.

On first listen, that sense of risk bites. There appear to be limited hooks, and the overall impact of 'Positions' is a subtle one.

But this is a classic example of an album that demands a few listens and some rumination before it can be fully appreciated. Eventually, the psychological complexity of some of its lyrics resonates profoundly. 

“All them demons helped me see shit differently,” Grande purrs on the album opener Shut Up, switching things up with sexy quips that are integrated organically, keeping things feeling emotionally and physically intimate. Grande’s sense of humour is on point, her language is on the level and her transparency is crystal clear. 

Still, it’s Off The Table, her latest collaboration with the Weeknd, that is the true highlight. Discussing the challenges presented by moving on from a lost love to a new relationship, both vocalists harmonise with a pristine sense of finesse. Similarly, the Doja Cat duet Motive swings back and forth as though the artists have a creative language with one another honed across decades.

The overarching mission statement on ‘Positions’ is one of a woman in control of her art and willing to exert powerful energy unapologetically. Working to a consistently high level at a rapid pace, Grande is a truly accomplished artist who is among the brightest lights in the pop sphere.

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