Highlights: “Getaway Car,” “Don’t Blame Me,” “Delicate”
Lowlights: “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” “Look What You Made Me Do,” “King of My Heart”
Taylor Swift’s latest studio album, Reputation, hit shelves nearly a month ago, but many fans hadn’t listened to the full project until recently.
Swift delayed the release of Reputation on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music in hopes to drive up album sales. The strategy worked well, as the album sold over 1.23 million copies in its opening week according to Forbes.
Though not as big a splash as her previous release, 1989, Reputation had the biggest opening week since Adele released 25.
And now that listeners don’t need to drop $15 to listen to the entirety of the album, some are split on the piece.
I am not.
Reputation is a good album. It isn’t Swift’s best album, but it’s definitely one of the top five albums released this year.
Swift attempts to display her changed persona by putting her personality on tracks in different ways, showing a departure from the long, lost Taylor Swift that battled with cheer captains for boys while she sat on the bleachers.
Some people may be put off by this, seeing as that was Swift’s angle to stardom–an underdog musician that traveled to Nashville with a notebook and a dream.
An electronic pulsing beat starts the album and sounds like the demogorgon appeared on the first season of Stranger Things.
This new sound, dark and powerful, is a step away from the dream-pop sound of 1989, but it works well in almost every track on the album.
“Ready For It,” “Endgame,” (which has a verse from Future) and “I Did Something Bad” all build up with an upbeat, heavy electronic feeling that lead in nicely to the album’s cleanup hitter; “Don’t Blame Me.”
“Don’t Blame Me” is perhaps the album’s most perfectly balanced song, with a slow yet energetic electronic beat giving way to Swift’s strong vocal performance in the chorus.
The next track, “Delicate,” could also make a bid for the album’s best song. Swift shows a more vulnerable side on top of one of the most catchy beats on the album to create a nearly perfect pop song.
After “Delicate,” the album begins to feel a bit bogged down by songs that don’t floor the listener until the ninth track on the 15-track album.
“Getaway Car” throws the listener back to Swift’s 1989 album, and it seems to have the makings of a radio hit. Producer Jack Antonoff’s hands have clearly been all over this tune, which sounds similar to the hits Antonoff produced with Lorde and his band Bleachers.
The following track, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” is one of those tracks that listeners will either love or hate. A playground chorus surrounded by gimmicky audio drops make this song the most juvenile on the album, though much of Swift’s fanbase will not mind. A neutral listener will likely decide that it’s the worst song that Taylor Swift ever made.
She redeems herself immediately, however.
Swift shares more than she ever has in “Dress,” singing a chorus of, “Only bought this dress so you could take it off, take it off.” This song puts off a vibe that you’d usually find on a Lana Del Rey track, and it works really well. A dramatic pause after the line, “Say my name and everything just stops,” brings the track to complete silence for a brief moment for one of the coolest moments on the album.
“New Year’s Day” ends the album a few tracks later, calling back to a previous version of Taylor Swift, which seems strange seeing as the 14 tracks before it were showing how she had moved away from her old self. Still, Taylor Swift singing over a piano is welcome in any scenario.
In all, while the album could’ve had some tracks lopped off without any real concern, Swift’s new-ish direction for this album paid off.
While some tracks come off as insecure shots related to drama from her personal life, the album’s best moments of vulnerability or power overshadow the sporadic, catty moments.
Swift’s musical talent is undeniably present on this album and for that, Reputation rivals Lorde’s Melodrama as the top pop album of 2017.