Album Reviews Music

Musical Advent Calendar #5 Taylor Swift – Reputation

Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album Reputation is a career defining record, expertly tackling issues of both Swift’s reputation and her rewriting of the public’s narrative of her persona. Fifteen tracks long, Taylor swiftly progresses from the biting and sarcastic narrative in tracks such as “I Did Something Bad” and “Look What You Made Me Do” to professions of vulnerability and a desire for romantic connection in “Call It What You Want” and “New Year’s Day”, truly making this album a force to be reckoned with.

Opening with a bang with the suggestive “…Ready For It?”, a heavy beat opens and heavily features throughout the song’s chorus, providing a serious edge to the lilting sentiment of  the lyric (“in the middle of the night, in my dreams”). Through the equally strong “End Game” featuring Ed Sheeran and “I Did Something Bad”, the album comes out swinging, with an aggressive emphasis on Swift’s power and perceived love of revenge. The track “Delicate” signifies a tonal and narrative shift, focusing on the vulnerability and purity of a new relationship; “is it cool that I said all that? ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate”. The album’s lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do” bookends the first segment of this album, handling yet again the media’s warped perception of Swift’s dealings with fellow celebrities (notably her infamous feud with Kanye West), and teasing what just might happen if she were pushed any furthur towards the edge.

The provocative “So It Goes…” is a departure from the familiar comfort of Swift’s romanticised view of relationships, painting the picture of a sensual evening with her lover (“Scratches down your back now, so it goes…”). The following tracks “Gorgeous” and “Getaway Car” evoke similar feelings of romance, with the latter even describing her efforts to leave one man for another “I wanted to leave him, I needed a reason”. “King Of My Heart”, my personal favourite track, weighs Swift’s freedom against the irresistibility of her newfound attraction and relationship through the use of a contrasting rhythmic pattern from the verse’s seldom “I’ve made up my mind, I’m better off being alone”, with the chorus’ soaring “And all at once, you are the one I have been waiting for”.  The sensuality of the track “Dress” is surprising when compared with Swift’s usual demure image and promotion of romance above sexuality within her songs, so with the lyric “I only bought this dress so you could take it off”, it is crystal clear that Swift’s newfound reputation will be one that defies her previous ‘good girl’ image to reveal her true passions and persona away from the public eye.

In the album’s final segment, the (seemingly Kanye West related) diss track “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” uses a teeny bopper beat and a heavily sarcastic chorus (“Because you break them [nice things], I had to take them away”) to reinforce this new Swift; nothing press-related can touch her anymore. The following “Call It What You Want” strips back the production elements that accompany almost all other tracks on the album to reward old school fans with Swift’s guitar, voice, and lyrics of romance and happiness: “He built a fire just to keep me warm” and “My baby’s fly like a jetstream, high above the whole scene, loves me like I’m brand new”. Finally, Reputation concludes with “New Year’s Day”, a heartwarmingly fuzzy track about the aftermath of New Year’s Eve (“there’s glitter on the floor after the party”), as Swift is reassured her romance will endure the public spotlight through the relatable sentiment: “I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on new year’s day”.

As a self-confessed Taylor Swift fan (I have been for many years now), I truly thought that any new music Taylor would put out I would absolutely love. And I must say, Reputation surpassed all of my expectations of what she would surprise us with next. So to any naysayers out there, don’t be fooled by the album’s lead single “Look What You Made Me Do”, there is so much more to love in this album, and you will certainly be surprised at the maturity, lyrical prowess and the infamous Swift hooks that manage to capture the essence of each song so perfectly. I implore you to give this album a good listen, as you’ll want to be clued in to what I believe to be one of the best new releases of 2017.

Tatum Stafford


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