Ariana Grande Spins Heartbreak Into Gold on ‘Eternal Sunshine’

The pop star sets the end of a romance and the start of a new one to a soundtrack awash in lavish atmosphere and adventurous melodies, with help from Max Martin.

Eternal Sunshine” is one of Ariana Grande’s most meticulously crafted and texturally consistent releases.Credit…Katia Temkin

In 2019, the altitudinous-voiced pop star Ariana Grande released an exquisitely unbothered breakup song titled “Thank U, Next” — a light, chiming smash that mentioned several of her famous exes by name and then blithely banished them from her heart forever with a wink and a smile.

But the heartache that fuels her seventh album, “Eternal Sunshine,” is of a considerably deeper variety; it even takes its name from Michel Gondry’s 2004 movie about the impossible fantasy of purging a past relationship from memory. “I try to wipe my mind, just so I feel less insane,” Grande, 30, sings on its skittering, mid-tempo title track. The potent melancholy that suffuses the song, and much of the album, tells you about how well that went.

“Eternal Sunshine” is Grande’s first album in over three years, which is a considerable pause after a prolific stretch where she put out a hit LP nearly annually. She followed the poised, polished “Sweetener” in 2018 with two quickly produced albums that felt more off-the-cuff and conversational: the intimate and revelatory “Thank U, Next” and the love-struck but less consistent “Positions.”

Since then, she got divorced from her husband of two years, Dalton Gomez, and started a romance with Ethan Slater, her co-star in the upcoming movie version of the hit musical “Wicked.” An overall narrative arc of heartbreak and new love unfolds on “Eternal Sunshine.” But, in a departure from her last several albums — one of which featured a song named for Pete Davidson, the comedian to whom she was then engaged — Grande stops short of explicit nods to autobiography and lets sweeping, wholehearted emotion tell the story.

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