The Ariana Grande train just don’t let up. Less than six months after thank u, next — her second album in less than a year — and the Victoria Monét duet “MONOPOLY,” the singer has teamed up with duo Social House for the R&B-indebted “boyfriend.” Over distorted, wonky synths, the three trade verses about the hesitation many of our generation feel entering into a new relationship. Sonically a mash of thank u, next and her 2013 debut, Yours Truly; structured similarly to the former’s title track, Grande takes a trip down musical memory lane that feels like if the latter could finally legally drink alcohol.
Admitting to her faults hasn’t been difficult for the singer as of late, as she declares herself a “motherfuckin’ trainwreck” in the opening lyric. In the are-we-or-are-we-not? phase of dating, Grande goes back and forth on just how much of her feelings she should disclose to her partner; fearing she might scare them off with her apparent neediness — detailed to glorious effect on thank u, next — she offers to remain in the flimsy territory they have inhabited this far. Social House’s Mike Foster and Scootie Anderson add their respective sides to the relationship in their verses, adding little in the way of clarity to why this romance can’t stand on more stable ground. With such a hazy premise and almost no resolution, “boyfriend” finds Grande and her cohorts floundering for inspiration.