Artist: Taylor Swift
Release date: 2019
Favorite track: “False God"
Fans celebrated Taylor Swift’s latest album like a holiday.
By fans, I mean me. I wasn’t an immediate lover (pun intended) of the first few singles Swift dropped from her previous album, “Reputation,” but I ended up playing the rest of the record on repeat for a month. I have no shame.
Needless to say, I was psyched for “Lover.” Spoiler alert: I’m not disappointed.
Swift is not loved for being the best instrumentalist or vocalist, but because she has a knack for tapping into the female voice in her lyrics and rebranding herself — necessities for any female pop star. With “Lover,” she nailed both.
This album has a song for every color on your mood ring.
It features pop music along with a few different “almost” genres, as I call them — almost country, borderline folk and barely electronic — also something along the lines of musical theater if you consider the bubbly sound and over-the-top video for “ME!” featuring Brandon Urie of Panic at the Disco. But I don’t.
Like “Reputation,” I wasn’t sold after hearing the first couple of singles. The colorful music video for “ME!” was endlessly entertaining, but I also flip the radio station every time I hear it. Sorry.
Onward to the positives, because I have a lot.
First, this record has 18 tracks. Thank you, Taylor. I prefer a well-crafted song, yes, but EPs and 10-track records are for the birds. I’m trying to curate playlists for every occasion, ya know?
The record starts with the most bubbly, most Swift-y traditional pop song ever, “I Forgot that You Existed.” The song comes in the same T-Swift starter pack as “We are Never Getting Back Together,” “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space.”
Honestly, I have a soft spot for these cheery, catchy hits. Swift’s peppy, yet subtle, vocals work well in those sorts of circumstances.
“Cruel Summer” is in a second tier of Swift’s hits because, yes, there are tiers. It’s more along the lines of “Style,” “Delicate” and her duo with Zayn Malik, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.” It’s more fluid than punchy, making it a more relaxing track to listen to.
This album hasn’t even been out for long, and I predict the title track will be the most underrated. Swift evolves with every record, and I think “Lover” is an example of this. Watch Keith Urban’s version if you get a chance.
The song is a throwback to Swift’s former country-rooted songs, such as “Ours,” “Teardrops on my Guitar” and “Fifteen.” But it’s more layered and developed. She’s matured musically, and it shows.
“The Man” has my favorite lyrics. Being a woman, these hit home. Swift sings in her mild approach about how things would be different if she were a man. Correction: how things would be better.
I’m so sick of running
As fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man
— “The Man”
Although it’s not a single, “The Archer” was the second song I heard from this album. Hey, Spotify picked it.
“The Archer” is the hymn of the album, so to speak. It has a calm, spiritual sound with repeating lyrics.
“I Think He Knows” isn’t my favorite, but it feels like Swift is having fun — and that’s a good thing. It’s one of her experiments in spitting off the lyrics of verses quickly, and that works for her.
“Paper Rings” has a similar tone. There is so much pressure on Swift to produce hit after hit, so I really appreciate how she still approaches music with a playful innocence.
“Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” is part throwback to the curly haired Swift of the 2000s and part homage to the sultry Lana Del Rey. It’s a cool combination. As per usual, Swift nailed the chorus. Listen to it once, and it will replay in your head at least 15 subsequent times throughout the day.
“Cornelia Street” is one of the songs I’m personally drawn to because of its emotional depth. Swift addresses the fear of a relationship ending. It’s a little sad, anxious, love-y — a cocktail of feelings to which everyone can relate.
I dig the lyrics to “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” but the music doesn’t do much for me. It’s a little odd. I usually skip it.
There has to be a zillion articles online analyzing how Swift’s lyrics and music videos apply to her real life. It doesn’t take a detective to analyze “London Boy.” Swift is currently dating British actor Joe Alwyn.
The song is obviously inspired and, frankly, pretty dang cute. I fancy it.
You know I love a London boy
I enjoy walking Camden Market in the afternoon
He likes my American smile
Like a child when our eyes meet, darling, I fancy you
— “London Boy”
I grew up with the Dixie Chicks, so I was psyched to see Swift collaborated with them on “Soon You’ll Get Better.” It’s a solid slow song, but I’d still love to hear them create an anthem together.
“False God” is my favorite. Nothing gets under my skin quite like a sexy beat and lyrics enclosed in a metaphor.
“You Need to Calm Down” was the second single. It has a great message about basically chilling out and being a good person. What’s not to like?
As Swift gets older, she has gotten more comfortable expressing her opinions. Her music is better for it.
“Afterglow” is another track I don’t vibe with. It’s a little awkward.
The high-pitched cooing at the beginning of “It’s Nice to Have a Friend” reminds me of Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Christmas Time is Here” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Strange, but it is one of my favorite holiday songs. It’s a soft-sounding track that surprisingly fits well into the album.
The record ends with “Daylight.” I didn’t like it at first, but it grew on me. Swift concluded the record on a positive — and again, mature — note. At the end of the song, you hear her talking in a slightly muffled voice (like over the phone), saying these words:
I wanna be defined by the things that I love
Not the things I hate
Not the things I’m afraid of, I’m afraid of
The things that haunt me in the middle of the night, I
I just think that you are what you love
Swift chose a colorful, whimsical persona for her “Lover” and I love(r) it. Almost nothing has been more fun than watching her magical, vintage-inspired animated videos play on a loop on Spotify.
Oh, did I mention that? She’s on Spotify now. If that isn't proof Swift has embraced a new era, I don't know what is. Swift released "Love Taylor: Lover Enhanced Album," an "album experience" on the streaming platform with gifs, music videos, glitter and cats — oh, my.