Exeter, Devon UK • Jun 15, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Music Album review: Taylor Swift – The Tortured Poet’s Department

Album review: Taylor Swift – The Tortured Poet’s Department

Phoebe Ozanne reviews Taylor Swift's latest album, "The Tortured Poets Department" and shares her favourite tracks from the record.
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Image: Flickr via Shutter 16 Magazine

It has been a couple of weeks since the world heard Taylor Swifts 11th album, The Tortured Poets Department, for the very first time and it is not one to forget. In fact, it has been on repeat ever since.

The highly anticipated album was announced as Swift received the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album for her previous new album, Midnights. However, a surprise second album was released the same night of April 19th, which added 15 new songs to the original album, titled The Tortured Poet’s Department: The Anthology.

In the first week, the multi-award-winning artist broke records once again as global streams hit 1.76 billion, breaking her own previous record.

Following the break-up with Joe Alwyn early last year, everyone was prepared for an album that shed some light on their relationship and breakup. Or possibly her newer relationship with American football-player Travis Kelce. Yet, TTPD offered so much more than just a few break-up songs, as she is often stereotyped as writing.

The album delves into heart-shattering poetry, with lyrics that feel like they’ve been recited from your head. This is an album which mimics the heart healing from heartbreak, and the mind finding a light in the shrouding darkness. It is the essence of Red, with the poetic lyrics of Folklore.

While the album is full of a variety of songs which all deserve honourable mentions, here are just a few of my favourites:

“The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” perfectly encapsulates the anger and pain of loving someone who only hurts you. With lyrics such as “I would’ve died for your sins / Instead I just died inside,” the song embodies a devastating sadness and fatalism that is the consequence of a relationship.

“Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me” is a personal favourite, alongside a favourite to many others. As one of the longer ones on the album, with a total time of 5 mins 34 secs, the song slowly builds, mirroring how anger can silently build over time before unleashing it all. This is a song for the people-pleasers who finally stood firm. The references to the circus are arguably representative of the music industry and celebrity life, with the lyrics “I was tame, I was gentle / Til the circus life made me mean / Don’t you worry folks / we took out all her teeth” and “you caged me / then called me crazy.” It is also a subtle reference for the Folklore fans out there, with the lines in the song “Mirrorball”, “when they sent home the horses and the rodeo clowns / I’m still on that tightrope / I am tryin’ everything to get you laughing at me.” Swift is revealing the performative nature of the music industry and how destructive it can be for the artists.

This is an album which mimics the heart healing from heartbreak, and the mind finding a light in the shrouding darkness.

The last mention would be the song “The Prophecy.” Released only in The Anthology, Swift uses religious imagery and mythology to provide a reflective song about the desire just to be wanted and loved. It is gentle but vulnerable, revealing a side that is different to her other songs on the album.

Swift did not hold back in TTPD and while it does not have the pop energy of 1989 or her earlier music, her lyricism of this album is for the fellow poets and writers out there. The title of the album is transparent. As she writes in the caption of the album release on Instagram “all that’s left behind is the tortured poetry” and the album is exactly that.

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