Taylor Swift’s New Album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department,’ Could Use an Editor: Review


Swift didn’t name names, but she boldly dropped a lot of clues about exiting a long-term cross-cultural relationship that had grown cold (the harrowing “Goodbye, London”) and briefly hooking up with a tattooed bad boy who raised of anger at the more judgmental people in her life (the angry “But Daddy I Love Him”) and a fresh start with those who made her sing — ahem — football metaphors (the weightless “Alchemy” “Skills”). The most striking song on “The Anthology” is about a tortured member of the Billionaires Club, whom Swift reimagines as a high school bully, and the title’s strange capitalization is among them: “thanK you aIMee.” .

At times, this album is a return to form. Its first two songs are a powerful reminder of how Swift can conjure the flushed delirium of a doomed romance from deep inside. Opener “Fortnight,” a pulsing, synth-frosted duet with Post Malone, is cool and restrained until lines like “I love you, it’s ruining my life” inspire the song of thaw and shine.Even better is the chatty, radiant title track, where Swift’s voice glides over smooth keyboard arpeggios, self-deprecatingly comparing herself and her lovers to bolder poets before concluding: ” This Is Not the Chelsea Hotel, We Are Modern Idiots Many Swift songs get lost in the dense jungle of their own vocabulary, but the silly specificity of the lyrics here—a chocolate bar, a nod to a friend’s name, a reference to pop songwriter Charlie. Pussy? – Weirdly, it’s very human.

Despite its vastness, The Tortured Poets Department is a strange and isolating album, often enveloped in the familiar, amniotic throbbing of Jack Antonoff’s work. (The National’s Aaron Dessner, who produced and helped write five tracks on the first album as well as “The Anthology,” added a softer and organic sensibility to Swift’s sound. ” There’s a unity to much of the sound on “The Tortured Poets Department” – gauzy backings, softly percussive synths, drum machine rhythms locking Swift into cuts, Chirping staccato – a sign that their partnership has become too comfortable and threatens to become stale.

As the album continues, Swift’s lyricism begins to feel uninhibited, imprecise, and needlessly lengthy. Breathless lines spill out, taking their melodies down circuitous paths. As they do on “Midnight,” the internal rhymes multiply like the recitation of a dictionary page: “Camera flash, welcome slam, get the match, throw the ashes off the ledge,” she says in “Fresh Out the Slammer,” one of several songs that relies too heavily on rote prison metaphors. Narcotic imagery was another source of inspiration for some of Swift’s corniest, most head-scratching works: “Florida” was apparently “a hellish drug.” If you say so!

Still, the song is one of the best on the album—a thunderous collaboration with pop witch Florence Welch, who blows in like a breath of fresh air, allowing Swift to tap into a A more dramatic and dynamic aesthetic. Another lovely song, “Guilty as Sin?” is a rare Antonov effort to shape Swift’s voice not with stiff electronics but with a ’90s soft-rock vibe. On these tracks in particular, clear images of Swift emerge: imaginary lovers with “messy upper-lip kisses,” friends in their 30s who “all smell like weed or babies.”


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