Georgia Dack



Georgia is the website entertainment editor and is also an English literature and Film student; she (unsurprisingly) enjoys & likes to write about cinema, tv shows, books, music, and culture.

The ‘Old Taylor’ has more or less flat-lined… stylistically, at least. Releasing her much-anticipated sixth album Reputation on the 10th of November, Taylor Swift unleashed 15 tracks of synth-pop on the world. While 2014 album 1989 was her first expedition out of the country-pop that made her name, Reputation leaves Swift’s Nashville-sweetheart persona with barely a breath of air in her lungs.

With the release of lead single ‘Look What You Made Me Do’, anticipation was built over the summer for a vengeful album, as she took swipes at the “role of the fool” that the media had made her play over the last ten years of her career. However, despite Swift insisting “all I think about is Karma”, and that critics “will all get yours”, the album is bizarrely shade-free. ‘This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ is the only additional track that Swift uses to bite back against her “big reputation”. An obvious swipe at long-time nemesis Kanye West, who got her ‘on the phone to mind twist’ her, the track is reminiscent of the Annie soundtrack, with Swift telling a fan she specifically created this sound because trying to remain on good terms with him was ‘like dealing with children.’ Both tracks are undeniably biting, showing a sassier side to Swift. However, despite the unwarranted backlash she has received for her previous sentimental style, the theme of revenge doesn’t underpin every track, and the album is very much Swift at its core: love-centric.

Much of the album appears to be an ode to Swift’s reputed boyfriend Joe Alwyn, with numerous references to his “ocean blue eyes”. However, rather than using this to underline the songs with fairy-tale ‘Love Story’ type narratives, the now 27- year old Swift lyrically matures into more adult themes- ‘Dress’ is a stand-out for this sultrier Swift as she tells her subject, “I only bought this dress, so you could take it off”. This combined with her first on-track swear word in ‘I Did Something Bad’ shows Swift to be moving away from her quintessentially country-based story-telling style, aligning herself fully with chart and mainstream themes. Swift comes into her own, shedding the “13” on her hand and adopting more Ariana Grande-esque lyrical choices, which she carries off well on these tracks.

The influence of Jack Antonoff of Bleachers is undeniable throughout the album, with Swift collaborating with her friend on a myriad of tracks. The upbeat, 80s-based synth that Antonoff favours on his own tracks provides light alt-pop relief from darker, beat driven tracks, like ‘…So It Goes’. Antonoff’s preppy hand provides strong motifs and concepts to the tracks he touches, such as ‘Getaway Car’, which leaves Max Martin and Shellback tracks like ‘…So It Goes’ as somewhat inferior in comparison, with their concepts lost in the sea of deep-synth and heavy bass drops. Perhaps it is here in which the issue lies with the album. The complete departure from her tried and tested style is something Swift has done well, with unprecedented first-week sales more than confirming her status as queen of pop. However, in her forage with Martin and Shellback into a more electro-based sound, Swift seems to lose something of her story-telling prowess and melodic skill. Most tracks are driven by beat rather than melody, which leaves Reputation without the sweet sentimentality of all five albums that went before.

Storyteller Swift is momentarily resurrected as the album ends, with the dreamy ‘Call it What You Want’; in a fashion reminiscent of Love Story, Swift questions, “I recall late November/ holding my breath/slowly I said/ You don’t have to save me/ But would you run away with me?”. Piano-based ‘New Year’s Day’ closes the album, with Swift doing what she does best: sweet, concept driven, instrument-based love songs. While the closing tracks show flashes of the romantic teen who crooned her way into hearts and charts ten years ago, it does leave the album feeling sonically incoherent.

Reputation is on track to be the highest-grossing album of 2017, with 700,000 units being sold on release day in the U.S alone. Swift deftly negates the image the media and masses have given her over the years, choosing to completely leave the break-up ballad off this album. While perhaps the most widely-anticipated of all Swift’s albums, it does seem as though perhaps those holding their breath for a return to country will be as dead as the old Taylor, with Swift very much planting her flag in the pop charts.