Despite some criticism, Pharrell’s artistry shines on Ariana Grande’s latest album Sweetener
Words by Brinsley Chidavaenzi
Pharrell’s production (as in Pharrell’s post-Neptune production from the 10’s) onward has been a bag (sometimes great, sometimes lacklustre) of surprises and an exercise in using 808’s in as many different ways as possible. 808’s over R&B, Doo-Wop, Gospel, Trap, New Orleans Bounce, Reggae Ton and Dancehall.
Sweetener marks first Pharrell’s high profile pop production since Miley Cyrus’s ‘Bangerz’ in 2013 and his presence is definitely not understated. ‘The Light Is Coming’ is Lemon’s sister with double time and half time shifts (N.E.R.D philosophy), mixed with bubblegum blasts of plucks stitched with 70s synth minimalist composition. ‘Successful’ channels 2001-2 era Neptunes production (think Usher’s U Don’t Have to Call or Last Night by Justin Timberlake) with nocturnal chords and ‘Animal Crossing’ esque sounds with a steel pan breakdown.