6 Best New Songs of the Week


#TIA – A new venture for us into music reporting. All reactions welcome

“Ari’s understated new album Sweetener doesn’t provide the big ballads of Arianas past, instead striking a more reserved tone. She’s said she wanted to avoid the played out vocal gymnastics and instead explore an even wider range: emoting with a tool that isn’t her whistle register. “Better Off,” the only traditional-ish ballad on the album, if only because it has strings and moves slow, achieves that new balancing act. Ari comes across assured in shaking off a bad relationship (read: Mac Miller) but doesn’t rely on vocal tricks as evidence off her newfound sense of security or self-confidence. Simply laying out the facts — “on the road a lot, had to keep it a thousand / so that I’m better of not being around ya” — and delivering them with unwavering conviction does the job. Ariana has been criticized, in the past, for playing the pop star too robotically and leaving too much of herself out of her work; I’d argue that on Sweetener, and “Better Off” especially, she’s the most present she’s ever been. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)”

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