Friday morning, Taylor Swift released her long awaited sixth studio album, reputation. Buzz was high: she made iTunes history with 700,000 presale albums sold, and her early-release have spent the two months at the top of the charts. Still, as an avid Taylor Swift fan, I was nervous for the release of the entire album: Frankly, “Look What You Made Me Do” was kind of a bummer. Like a huge bummer. It felt forced and trite. Its only redeeming quality was how much Spencer Pratt loves feeding his hummingbirds to it (don’t bother having a snpachat if you don’t follow Spencer).
I should’ve known better than to doubt Taylor.
The release of “Look What You Made Me Do” was strategic. With this release, Taylor promised to leave past versions of her in the rearview. She forced listeners to hear reputation with fresh ears, and separate it from albums of the past. In short, “Look What You Made Me Do” made reputation unpredictable. It made us listen to this album differently.
reputation is unlike anything Taylor’s made before–it’s got heavily techno influences, synthesized vocals, and risque lyrics that would make the Taylor of “Tim McGraw” blush. Gone is the sweet Nashville girl, and born is a woman, torn between LA and New York, who parties and gets angry, and allows herself to hold grudges. reputation shows that Taylor Swift is a real person with authentic feelings, one who’s rich and famous and not denying it anymore. It feels like a sigh of relief, for Taylor and the listener.
This shift is made apparent by heavy baselines, and lyrics that have lost that Taylor Swift optimism, but instead, found contentment and a regaining of control (“We can’t make any promises now can we babe, but you can make me a drink”). But despite these changes, the Taylor we’ve grown up with is still there. In fact, reputation‘s structure and lyricism feels more classically Taylor than ever. There are remnants of the chantiness of “We Are Never Getting Back Together” in “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”; the story telling structure of “Love Story” in “Getaway Car”; the almost tangible, visible lyrics of “Enchanted” and “Style” in “New Year’s Day.” There are the typical Taylor themes of cars, the color red, and thinly veiled (or not veiled at all) references to loves lost. reputation is a new spin on Taylor’s old tricks; the album could’ve been called reinvention.
Taylor has proven to be a master of reinvention, and reputation is her best display yet. The album is proof that Taylor is nowhere near her peal. She’s evolving and improving. And “Look What You Made Me Do”? Even that, impossibly, works in the context of the album.
reputation is available on iTunes now, and will be available to stream everywhere else Friday.
Until next time,
Cover image courtesy of Rolling Stone