wed 22/05/2024

Album: Taylor Swift - The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Taylor Swift - The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology

Album: Taylor Swift - The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology

Taylor Swift bares her soul with a 31-track double album

Swift preparing to levitate down your street and crash the party like a record scratch

Taylor Swift’s unfathomable ability to articulate human emotion shines as brightly as ever in her latest double album The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology. The 31 track collection combines the gentle melodies of previous albums folklore and evermore, the soul baring chaos of Red, the cool synth-pop production of Midnights, and the extreme vulnerability and intricate storytelling that is persistent throughout her entire discography.

Swift’s dedication to authenticity is to be credited for the success and inevitable longevity of this album. Having shared a diaristic account of her relentless quest for an everlasting love, facing its trials and tribulations on a world stage since the age of 16, and encountering persistent ridicule and criticism along the way, Taylor has fearlessly chosen the deep, messy truth once again.

The devastating exit from slow heartbreak detailed in “So Long, London” goes straight into a short-lived whirlwind that left the question, “Were you sent by someone who wanted me dead?”. The transition between the two is succinctly summarised in country pop highlight “Fresh Out the Slammer”. Much as it would be missing the point to dissect every lyric in an attempt to confirm who they reference, it would also be foolish to assume that tales of romance falling apart are as deep as The Tortured Poets Department gets. The aforementioned story is told within the overarching theme of going through that journey in the public eye, and how that has unfolded for Taylor Swift specifically. “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)" shares it’s focus with public perception of the relationship in question, the chorus stating “They shake their heads sayin’, 'God help her' / When I tell ‘em he’s my man", and “How Did It End” describes the “empathetic hunger” for details about the end of a relationship. Another highlight, “But Daddy I Love Him” directly addresses the inherent judgement with humorous confrontation “I’m having his baby, no I’m not, but you should see your faces.”

Perhaps the most moving song on the album, “Clara Bow”, explores what it is to be an "it girl" in the entertainment industry, referencing both Bow and Stevie Nicks as examples, and closing with “You look like Taylor Swift / In this light, we’re loving it / You’ve got edge, she never did”, a heart-wrenching acknowledgment that it seems she will always be condemned as equally as she is desired, but that she is at least in good company. The album features some of Swift’s most cutting, explicit, angry and sad lyrics but the poignant tone as she says her own name is its most emotional moment.

Expanding on sentiments expressed in previous songs including Lover’s “The Archer” and Midnights’ “Anti-Hero”, The Tortured Poets Department feels like a cohesive explanation of how Taylor’s deep desire for connection and the heartbreak that comes with it has been experienced in her unique position as one of the most successful musicians of all time; the soulful vulnerability in both her lyrics and her vocals, and the moments of gentle humour and hyperbole keep it relatable.

Taylor Swift has once again alchemised pain and criticism into art, surpassing her own already astronomical influence on the music industry with an artefact that deserves to be celebrated forever.

Below: watch the video for "Fortnight" by Taylor Swift, featuring Post Malone

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