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Taylor Swift Welcomes Listeners to Her Evocative Work, “The Tortured Poets Department”

The “Anti-Hero” singer/songwriter Taylor Swift released her greatly anticipated album “The Tortured Poet’s Department” last Friday, April 19. She invites the public into her world, especially her devout supporters who have witnessed Swift’s everlasting controversies. 

Swift’s album features artists such as Post Malone on the track “Fortnight” and Florence + the Machine on “Florida!!!.” Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner are behind the production as well.

On the first day of release 1.4 million copies were sold, along with conquering a new record on the music streaming platform Spotify by having over 300 million streams in one day. 

The album captivates the style of something that seems both timeless and contemporary, producing tracks with an ’80s ballad with the touch of electronic, alternative and indie folk sounds. Many have compared it to her album “Midnights” that was released in October 2022 and was notably produced by Jack Antonoff as well. 

This album originally released 16 tracks, then followed up with 15 more songs to complete the full album. It is over two hours in length and uses suggestive titles that are assumed to be allusions for past controversies, ex-lovers or just eye-catching anecdotal references. 

Preview for Taylor Swift’s latest album, “The Tortured Poets Department.”

She opens her album with the song, “Fortnight,” that features singer Post Malone. The song talks about a short-lived romance, and it is assumed to be about The 1975 singer, Matty Healy. Swift and Malone experiment with melodic electronic synth while confessing their feelings about a destructive heartbreak. This song was my favorite to listen to out of the whole album.

Photo Taylor Swift and Post Malone together.

Her album-titled track, “The Tortured Poets Department,” is a witty ode to someone who she was in a relationship with, specifically who seemed to be interested in poetry. She sings about a typewriter that is another assumed correlation about Healy, since he has sung about not being able to live without a typewriter and randomly mentions pop singer Charlie Puth. This is another ballad with an ’80s touch and airy melodies. 

So Long, London” seems to be about her ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn, an English actor raised in London. The song is filled with metaphors that are intertwined with Swift’s repetitive downtempo sound to match her feelings about the hardships of losing a longtime lover.

Photo of Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn when they were in a relationship.

The song, “The Alchemy,” has Travis Kelce’s name written all over it. She sings, “Shirts off and your friends lift you up over their heads,” as a reference to Kelce’s team, the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the 2024 Super Bowl. Yet another ballad that has a bit of an orchestrated airy ambience. Not so sure if all these ballads sound different from one another.

Photo of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce after the Kansas City Chiefs won the 2024 Super Bowl.

On Swift’s second release of TTPD, she releases a song that may seem to have odd placements of capitalized letters, but there is a definite jab at reality television star Kim Kardashian. The song, “thanK you aIMee,” makes it apparent that the name spells out K-I-M in reference to their past scandal with Kanye West, after what Swift perceives as back and forth humiliation and lies.

Photo of Kanye West and Taylor Swift’s infamous moment at the 2009 VMAs.

After listening to the 31+ track album, it seems to be a compiled piece that is bored of itself. The production is overshadowed with lyricism and storytelling, making it difficult to remember what song the listener is listening to. 

It is perfectly serviceable for Swift to release an album where she references past experiences to contribute to her on-going narrative artistry, but she may as well have just released a poem book because there is a lack of musicality in this latest release.

“Midnights” and “The Tortured Poets Department” sound too similar and it seems Swift is a bit too comfortable with the sound she is doing, and comfortability can become boring to the public when you are an immensely popular artist.  It would have been nice to experience a fresh sound from her, since she has proven in the past that she is capable of switching her sound.

The production was repetitive, and it felt as though there was no room for the lyrics to breathe. This album feels like one really long run-on sentence that could have used a couple of commas, and possibly a semicolon as well. Maybe Swift should have lessened the amount of released songs and saved the rest for another time.

Overall, “The Tortured Poets Department,” was a fun gossip session, and was really interesting to research about, but I think I already forgot what poetic devices she used and I could not really name more than five songs that I listened to. Hopefully next time, Swift tries a different genre that could give her more of a push into being less boring. Maybe Art Pop?