Taylor Swift loves to have fun. This shines through in her recent album titled Lover, I would choose that one. At a whopping 18 tracks, Swift gives fans an extensive look inside inside her romance and post-Reputation life. The pop artist subtly promoted the album before it dropped, invigorating Swifties from all over the globe. Swift recreated her entire social media in the aesthetic of the album, dropped clues to titles and collaborations in music videos, blurry Instagram pics, and an Ellen interview, and had a mural of a butterfly painted in PLACE that turned into a surprise meet-and-greet for eagle-eyed fans. Yeah, she’s extra. But somehow, Lover’s pink butterflies and bright colors seem more grown-up than the dark, reptilian reputation. And lyrically, any listener could tell that this album is, at its core, a celebration of, well… love.
Track One: I Forgot That You Existed
While reputation was an album of hostility, all about berating those that did her wrong, this album starts out as a sort-of lyrical transition between the two eras. I Forgot’s light, catchy beat murmur in background, contracting sharp, sassy lyrics. The titular “you” (mostly likely in reference the singer’s ex Calvin Harris) asked why there was no Reputation song for him, and Taylor responded, laughing. The song sets up the album as Taylor is simply moving on, and letting go.
Track Two: Cruel Summer
Cruel Summer is an instant favorite, and probably could have been released as the lead single instead of ME!, which garnered a lukewarm reception from fans. Although the song alludes to story of Romeo and Juliet, Cruel Summer is very different than Love Story, a thematically similar track in Swift’s 2008 album, Fearless. It has a darker tone than much of the rest of the album, with a bit of an edgier sound; quick verses and a memorable hook. One of the songs with the most playability on the album.
Track Three: Lover
The album’s fourth and final single and the title track, Lover truly displays the depth of true love Taylor has for both her current partner and herself. It displays Swift’s prowess for songwriting, and even with Jack Antonoff’s seasoned production capabilities, the song appears to be a stripped down version of itself, a love letter rather than a song. And it works beautifully.
Track Four: The Man
In The Man, Swift imagines a world in which she is on the other side of the double standard. Especially for women in the public eye, breaking through and staying on top of the industry is a constant battle. Swift is bitter and fed up, singing, “I’m so tired of running as fast as I can / Wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man”. She also touches on the media’s tendency to blame and shun women for having a populous dating history, while applauding men for the same thing. Production-wise, it’s nothing mind-blowing, but lyrically, it’s too important to write off.
Track Five: The Archer
The Archer is a break from the peppy tone of much of the rest of the album, featuring retrospective, vulnerable lyrics that perfectly display how Taylor Swift made her start in a singer-songwriter genre. The vocals are the forefront of the song, showcased as Swift harmonizes with herself. Contemplative and pleading, Swift asks, “Who could ever leave me darlin’ / But who could stay”. It’s a hook that goes straight to the heart.
Track Six: I Think He Knows
I Think He Knows is Lover’s snappy, can’t-help-but-dance sixth track. Upon first listen, it wasn’t one of my favorites, but swiftly (heh) climbed ranks with repeated listens. While the chorus is fun, the verses are a bit disappointing, and feel more like speaking on pitch rather than singing, which is particularly disappointing when paired with sub-par lyrics. A creative addition to the song was the effect of clinking glasses, which I thought was a unique idea.
Track Seven: Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince
This track uses an extended metaphor of high school to entertain listeners, as Swift draws connections between high school and the spotlight of the media. To me, it is reminiscent of the 1989 era in tone and sound. I have to admit, the bridge in particular leaves much to be desired, as does the rest of the song. While I wouldn’t say it is necessarily a bad song, it is definitely not one of the album’s best. Honestly, my favorite part of it is the title.
Track Eight: Paper Rings
Hello, 80’s pop! “Paper Rings” is the cute, playful love letter to Taylor Swift’s romance with Joe Alwyn. You can tell that she is smiling while singing, and the bubbly tone of the song is infectious. “Paper Rings” sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of the next big-screen romcom, and if it was I wouldn’t be surprised.
Track Nine: Cornelia Street
At 4 minutes and 47 seconds, “Cornelia Street” showcases a Taylor Swift who is desperate to stay in love. Like in “You’ll Get Better Soon”, Swift takes the listener on a tour of her most vulnerable emotions. It reminds me tonally of “Delicate” from Reputation. Again, reminds me that Taylor Swift is first and foremost a songwriter.
Track Ten: Death By A Thousand Cuts
“Death By A Thousand Cuts” is the one breakup song on this album, a bit of a black sheep track among the others. It’s filled with a sense of longing for a romance that has run its course. Swift is singing to a former lover that has since moved on, when she is left in love. This song’s rank among the others on Lover truly depends on the listener, as reception has been mixed. It reminds me of “Liability” by Lorde, which was also produced by Bleachers singer Jack Antonoff.
Track Eleven: London Boy
A poppy ode to London (and its boys), “London Boy” catches the listener off-guard with a sampling of Idris Elba on a talk show and leads right into Taylor Swift’s cheeky list of things she loves about the hometown of her beau, Joe Alwyn’s. For me, “London Boy’ has achieved bop status, and deserves it. Favorite lyric: “They say home is where the heart is / But God, I love the English”.
Track Twelve: Soon You’ll Get Better (ft. The Dixie Chicks)
This song is beautiful, emotional, and… sort of doesn’t belong on the album. Look, there is no question that Swift put her heart into these lyrics. I love this song, and yes, it may have made me cry when I first listened to it. But tonally, in an album that is either upbeat or in love or both, it just isn’t. I believe that “Soon” could’ve been appreciated the fullest as a single, not tied to any album. Because man, those harmonies, though.
Track Thirteen: False God
“False God” plays on the romance equating to religion motif that has become increasingly popular in songwriting. It’s smooth and chill, and the horns are a delightful surprise. Swift’s feelings of love are just as intense, but she shows that she doesn’t need a chipper beat to convey them. “False God” is a bit of a sleepy hit that I believe is underrated among its companions.
Track Fourteen: You Need To Calm Down
Released during Pride Month, “You Need To Calm Down” instantly hit the charts as a bass-filled empowerment bop. Taylor Swift shows just how much her ally status means to her by delivering a poppy punch to bigots everywhere within earshot of a radio. Within this track, she name-drops GLAAD, otherwise known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. This makes Swift’s ally status adamantly known; furthermore, she sings the instantly iconic line, “And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate / ‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay!”. “Calm Down” is the brightly colored, feel-good single this album needed.
Track Fifteen: Afterglow
“Afterglow” is Swift’s apology track, wherein she recognizes that the conflict between her and her beau is her fault and takes responsibility for the hurt she has caused. I actually love the vocals on this song. It reminds me of “Wildest Dreams” from 1989 melodically, but I’m okay with that because I love the former song to death. If I had to critique anything, I would say the lyrical content of the first verse is fine, but the second could have been better. I don’t know why, but I would just love to hear a whole stadium singing along to this song.
Track Sixteen: ME! (ft. Brendon Urie)
What can be said about “ME!” that has not already been said? Staying with Swift’s puzzling motif of releasing one of the least-likeable songs on the album as the lead single, “ME!” made its debut into much anticipation and hopes, only to dash them. Somehow, it seemed overplayed the second it dropped. Of all the lyrics in the album, these have the least creativity. What at first seemed like a sparkly self-empowerment anthem quickly turns into a tiring earworm. I, personally, am a huge fan of Brendon Urie, but I believe that this song did not belong in his discography (or Taylor Swift’s, for that matter).I might be wrong, but I think it’s safe to say that “ME!” is no one’s favorite Lover track.
Track Seventeen: It’s Nice To Have A Friend
“It’s Nice To Have A Friend” reads more as a poem set to amateur piano than a formally produced song. It’s eerie melody and juvenile lyrics, complete with a single-sentence hook, seem to be Swift trying something new and different. However, it doesn’t quite achieve whatever it was going for, and just ends up seeming out of place. As always, I am a fan of a horn section, but even that could not give “It’s Nice” an identity.
Track Eighteen: Daylight
The final track of Lover is what the album, and era, is all about – growth. New beginnings are the subject of these lyrics, which both give off Red vibes and something completely new. “Daylight” is all pretty piano and golden high notes. The production is similar to that of Antonoff’s band Bleachers, but feels totally Taylor. At the end of the day, her album is a celebration of romance, of love, and is a victory for the singer. Congratulations, Taylor Swift!