Perhaps the journey Taylor Swift has been on has helped her gain a little more insight and perspective on life, love and legacy as both an artist and human; she sounds like she is free of the frustration that came with the reputation era and can finally get back to business as one of pop music’s shining lights. Lover has given her the platform to make bright and wishful music again, leaving her past demons behind and using her own advice: Shake It Off.
In 2017, Taylor Swift brought out reputation and damn near damaged her career’s reputation (ironically); luckily 2019 has brought back a side to Taylor Swift that we all grew accustomed to. Long gone is the faux-angst and the cringeworthy wannabe edgy phase, welcome back to the room quirky pop ballads that gush about love in a cute and smiley way.
In many ways, Lover is the antithesis of reputation, swapping a desperate attempt to be wild and different with positivity, affection and warmth. However, it does share one common theme; the choice of singles on both projects has been nothing short of diabolical. Picking arguably the two worst songs from reputation in the form of …Ready For It? and the glorfied Right Said Fred knock-off Look What You Made Me Do was quite something, but Taylor truly outdid herself with the selections on Lover. I think it’s going to take a pretty mammoth effort to come up with worse choices for singles off an album than ME! and You Need To Calm Down are here; both absolutely suck.
Could this all be a ploy? A dastardly tactic to lower our expectations for an album by feeding us the two worst cuts, before pleasantly surprising us with quality throughout the rest of the tracklist? It’s a risky game to play, but when you’re the biggest female popstar alive I think it’s something you could get away with. (DISCLAIMER: This take was a joke, please for the love of god don’t think I am being serious here; it was a merely light-hearted poke at the poor decision making in which Taylor chose to lead off her album cycle).
Taylor has always been kinda corny, let’s be honest, but she has a real knack for writing sticky hooks and really jolly tracks when she’s in full-blown popstar mood. There’s obvious misfiring on here, namely London Boy, a lame lyrical lol-fest that appears to list every bloated British stereotype in existance within its three minute runtime; not to mention that chorus on The Man, where Taylor professes that “if I were a man, then I’d be the man”, wow. However, more often than not she sounds focused and driven to craft some very catchy pop songs. Cruel Summer slaps hard, as does Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince; both of which rank up alongside her golden era of Red & 1989.
The album’s production is glamorous, shimmering and fabulously uplifting; using colourful synths and vivid piano structures to set a scene of atmospheric euphoria. The pulsing keys on Cornelia Street are so charming and compliment Taylor’s anecdotal lyrics and melodic vocals. Swift’s ability to ride the wave of an instrumental is on full display on Lover, whether it be her choppy flow on the I Think He Knows pre-chorus, or her big ballad sound on Afterglow.
In short, Taylor Swift sounds revitalised, rejuvenated, and re-inspired; it’s great to witness. I had sharp, scathing words for reputation because I never believed it for one second, she felt like a parody in the villainous role she’d placed herself in. Her comfort zone and where she can truly excel is to be the pop princess we all know, putting a smile on the listener’s face and being the perfect positive influence for her predominantly young fanbase. Lover isn’t perfect, it certainly isn’t the best pop album I have ever heard; it won’t shatter perception or follow the kind of endearing legacy that something like Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion or Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer will; but it’s a damn good effort and a return to form for an artist who looked to have been chewed up and spat out by the ruthless world of judgemental critics (hello Taylor, sorry about that).
BEST TRACKS: Cruel Summer, Lover, I Think He Knows, Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince, Cornelia Street, Afterglow
WORST TRACKS: ME!, You Need To Calm Down, London Boy, The Man