Taylor Swift opens her seventh album, “Lover,” giving a sweet ending to her “Reputation” persona with the tune “I Forgot That You Existed.” While the “Reputation” Swift was born (and died) in 2017, this newest persona of Swift from her new album is a lover, not a fighter. The song opens up this pop-throwback album beautifully by letting the listener get familiar with the Swift who wrote 1989. Besides her break into the “Reputation” era, Swift is most known for her switch from country to pop music; and, this opening track reminds people that Swift’s last album was an act. This is the real Swift.
“Cruel Summer” kicks off this time of love and evolution in Swift’s life, from a secret love to being scared to love someone. The electro- pop beats are reminiscent to Lorde’s “Melodramatic” album, which the co- creator of “Lover,” Jack Antonoff, also had a hand in creating. Antonoff helps Swift really reach her full pop potential. Without him, this album would be drastically different. “Cruel Summer” is followed quickly by the title track, “Lover,” which can make even the loneliest of souls feel some love. The song sounds like a ballroom dance in all the right ways, also bringing out some intricate string plucking that gives the song a raw finish.
Swift breaks up the love by discussing her struggles as a female musician in “The Man.” To put it in the words of Swift herself, “I always wonder how fast I would get there if I was a man.” So, the meaning behind the song is clear as day; however, it is another poppy song- very similar to “Cruel Summer,” “ Forgot that You Existed” and, the sixth track, “I Think He Knows.” Are they good songs? Yes. Are the lyrics to “The Man” powerful and a quick reality check to men who doubt a woman’s spot in the workplace? Yes. However, it still follows the same formula as the other songs on the album.
Despite this, there are a few break out hits from these formulaic songs. “Soon You’ll Get Better” (featuring Dixie Chicks) is a heartbreaking song about a loved one becoming ill. In the soft song, a mournful Taylor says that the person will get better, “Because they have to.” The Dixie Chicks provide strong backing vocals to Swift’s chorus and bring their classic plucky string fiddle to break up the rest of the synth-pop beats in the album. The group of talented singers basically plead together for the ill patient to get better. It is hauntingly beautiful and reminds me of some of her earlier acoustic versions.
“Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” also stands out in the 18 tracks, not for its sound – but for its metaphorical approach. While at first glance it seems like another one of Swift’s high school stories, it is actually a metaphor for Swift’s inspiration to become politically vocal in the current political climate. From growing up as one of ‘America’s Sweethearts’ to being seen as a ‘bad, bad girl,’ Swift uses this song to explain how she decided to take the leap into vocal activism instead of remaining silent as she did for so long. This is one of the most lyrically deep songs on the album and makes the most impact to listeners who have been with Swift through her escapades of stardom.
“Paper Rings” is also a stand-out. Not for any truly artistic reason, but because it is impossible to listen to the track without at least swaying a bit. The song is fun without being too strict, as it was made without any “modern” sounds. This makes for a fun song that is a remnant of an early ‘70s bop, including the steady drum beat and the bass punctuating Swift’s declarations of love. If you ever need a song to dramatically sing while bouncing around on your bed and working those facials, “Paper Rings” is the one go-to.
The whole album is lyrically impressive and has so much potential. Sadly, it sticks to one sound the whole album. There is no variety in the type of songs on the album. There is either synth-pop beats or rugged acoustics. Personally, I wish that Swift had tried and made her songs sound a little bit more diverse, which would have given the album a bit more life. There is no doubt that Taylor Swift is a talented singer/songwriter as she would not have gotten as far as she has if she wasn’t. And, while “Lover” is a light and easy listen without having complicated lyrics/ tunes (excused from Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince), it is far from Swift’s best album. I predict, and expect, that Swift has a lot more talent to show the world before she hangs up the guitar strap.