Album Review – Taylor Swift ‘Lover’

4.5/5 Being no stranger to revealing her whole heart in her music, Swift has taken her craft to a new level

As the 7th installment to the Taylor Swift legacy, ‘Lover’ has truly delivered an unforgettable pop revival that we didn’t know we needed. The 18 track juggernaut encompasses romance in all its sides, facets and complexities. One factor that defines a Taylor Swift album is her remarkable skill in telling stories that are close to her heart, but also making them open enough for all her listeners to resonate with too.

Swift’s ‘Lover’ begins with the perhaps unexpected beginning track, ‘I Forgot That You Existed’ featuring short piano chords and a light vocal that depicts a night where Swift forgot about the existence of someone that turned on her and enjoyed her momentary downfall. Many can speculate who this is about from Kanye and Kim to Calvin Harris or maybe, the track is in fact a collective ‘who are you again?’ to them all. Who knows? But what a great way to begin an album by saying goodbye to those you would like to leave behind.

‘Cruel Summer’ follows this light hearted opening with a heavy production of synthesizers and drum machines incorporated by non-other than Jack Antonoff who has collaborated with Swift on most of this album. This track follows up Swift’s interest in the ‘bad boys’ like her past hit ‘Style’ from 1989. Swift seems to find hope during her ‘cruel summer’ in this newfound romance and throughout the song, she learns to open up saying, ‘”For whatever it’s worth/ I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?”’ her hesitance and self-doubt taking centre stage during perhaps one of the lowest points of her life just before the release of ‘Reputation’ when everything for the songstress seemed to be in turmoil. We can only conclude that this song is about her current romance with Joe Alwyn which surprisingly for Swift, hasn’t been in the spotlight anywhere near as much as her past romances. Maybe that will be the key to success for them both.

Next up is the title track, ‘Lover’. Dreamy and written soley by Swift herself, ‘Lover’ pulls together all the different facets of romance in the album to create the idyllic end result which is love. Enamoured couples all around the world will no doubt be playing this down the aisle and for their first dances, with Swifties most likely still listening to this song well into their later lives. Jack Antonoff produced this track also with Swift, demonstrating his vast range of talent from electronic instruments and synthesizers to a live sounding, timeless production. This track really is one for the pop history books.

Recently, Taylor Swift has become much more politically active, speaking about politicians and LGBTQ+ rights and for the first time, her music has mirrored this in a very obvious fashion. Although equal rights are mentioned in 1989 through the track, ‘Welcome to New York’, Swift has become one of the top pop stars to support the LGBTQ+ community from the release of ‘You Need to Calm Down’ which throws all of her support behind her gay fans and coupled with a very pride-like music video, this is definitely going to be a staple in pop culture of acceptance. Another politically provoked track is, ‘The Man’ in which Swift states at how much harder she has to work to keep up with the men as men have so much more privilege and respect in the industry, saying that if she were a man, ‘I’d be a fearless leader/ I’d be an alpha type/When everyone believes ya/What’s that like?’. The last lyrics most likely infer how women for years haven’t been believed when accusing men of sexual misconduct and inequality.

Following this trend of political activism, ‘Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince’ seems to be drawing a connection between the injustice that goes on in school and the injustice that is going on in America stating, ‘My team is losing, battered and bruising’ which perhaps could represent the democratic party being beaten by the Trump-Republicans. She also refers to ‘Boys will be boys then, where are the wise men?’ Again, perhaps referring to Trump’s ‘locker room talk’ when he was talking about sexual assault. Swift could be using the microcosm of a school to simplify the injustices that are ongoing in the American political system.

The only track that seems to not be so sonically cohesive with the album is ‘Paper Rings’ which brings a pop punk sound to the album. Although the track is uplifting and fits with the theme of love, it doesn’t seem to fit very well on the album and probably isn’t one of the strongest tracks. The album as a whole most likely wouldn’t mind the absence of ‘Paper Rings’. However, surely there will be many Swifties that will love this throwback song and appreciate its inclusion in the album.

The most heart-breaking track by far is, ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ featuring Dixie Chicks. It talks of Swift’s Mother, Andrea, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and who is unfortunately plagued with the disease once more. She sings, ‘You’ll get better soon/ Cause you have to’ showing her need for her Mother in her life. Throughout the years, there has always been a very close relationship between Swift and her parents with her dedicating one of her earlier tracks called, ‘The Best Day’ to Andrea. This track perhaps is the most personal that we’ve seen swift yet, her heart seems to pour out into this song and the listeners can feel it as if it were their own.

The Lead single, ‘ME!’ features of course on this album too with the negation of, ‘Hey kids!, Spelling is Fun!’ in the bridge, which I think many of us won’t miss. It seems as though Swift heard the criticism of this line and I imagine she won’t miss it so much either. Apart from that, ‘ME!’ is an uplifting anthem for all Swifties to sing at the top of their lungs when they feel the world is trying to bring them down. Very similar to the concept of ‘Shake it Off’ but without quite as much success, this single still brings a smile whenever it’s on. Also, Brendon Urie from ‘Panic! At the Disco’ features on this track lending his distinctive voice to the mix bringing another lift to the second verse of the song.

Many tracks seem to have a direct correlation to her relationship with Joe Alwyn from, ‘It’s Nice to Have a Friend’ hints at marriage from a story of two kids falling in love to ‘Afterglow’ which is Swift apologising for an argument which she caused and the raw vulnerability involved in a lovers quarrel.

‘Cornelia Street’, my personal favourite here, talks of how important her time was there and how if she ever lost her love, she couldn’t ever go there again. Another written just by Swift, we really can see through one of the windows she uncovers into her mostly private life she now leads. Produced again by Jack Antonoff to perfection.

‘Daylight’ plays the listener to the end of their journey after this 1 hour and 1 minute marathon. Originally the title of the album, the ambient ending adds a reflective nature as Swift sings, ‘I’ve been sleeping so long in a 20-year dark night/And now I see daylight’. Bringing a contrasting light to the darkness that the Reputation era brought, almost feeling like a new beginning is starting.

Although the singles from this album haven’t yet performed as well in comparison with Swifts 1989 album, my overall feeling is that ‘Lover’ is her best album to date. Being no stranger to revealing her whole heart in her music, Swift has taken her craft to a new level talking about the struggles she’s had with her Mother’s cancer diagnosis to the true love she seems to have found over the past three years. This album feels like it could be a cultural movement forward into a new version of pop that incorporates 80s style production with ambient sounds and whole hearted lyrics with political indications. No one tributes 80s style music quite like Taylor Swift and rather than sounding like a copycat, she always manages to embody her inspirations and make her own unique style.

As music carries on taking its turn into R&B, Hip Hop and Rap which is currently taking the world by storm, and rightly so, Taylor Swift is bringing a wave of fresh air with her new pop classics proving that all music can live in the limelight alongside one another. A few years ago, people would’ve in fact been saying that mainstream music was too Pop and perhaps in a few years things will change and they will again. Swift is to be admired in many respects as even though music has changed so quickly and drastically away from her pure pop sound, she has carried on authentically with her own style and hasn’t tried to change simply to fit in and it seems to have paid off. ‘Lover’ is predicted to be one of the biggest albums of the year and I expect many nominations and awards to add to her already bulging collection.

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