The old Taylor can’t come to the phone, why? Oh because she is dead! This line sums up the new image and sound for Taylor Swift in her sixth album Reputation. The big question is this new sound a step too far or just the evolution of the biggest musician in the world.
The album begins with the second single released ….are you ready for it?. There is no easing into the new sound for Taylor. You straight away get hit by the electropop and synth-pop that dominates the album and is a hallmark of Jack Antonoff. The song has a anthemic chorus that contrasts sharply with the rapping, grungy and dark verses. This song is Taylor Swift at her best. She pushes herself to try new styles such as rap rather than her previous releases.
The second song the album End Game featuring Ed Sheeran and future further explore Taylor’s ability with some rapping whilst seamlessly returning to her traditional pop sound with beautifully crafted vocals during the chorus. Again this song further cements her growth from country star to pop star to now a master of her craft.
The third (and my favourite) song of the album is the incredible I did something bad. Beyond the headline grabbing swearing, this song has Taylor’s unique talent at storytelling from her personal experience with a melodic and catchy sound that makes it a masterpiece. The chorus with added sound effects catches your attention and immediately has you hooked. The verses really delve into Taylor’s experience with previous lovers. There is a humbling truth to her songs. From her fear and experience of dating playboys to the telling line of “you got to leave before you get left”.
This is followed by Don’t Blame Me. The contrast in sound, beat and lyrics further cements the impressive variety this album has. The slow groove to this song contrasts vividly with the faster songs that proceed it. The feeling and hints of gospel sound are also surprise in the album. It also allows Taylor to not only demonstrate her song writing ability but her vocal range and power.
The next song of the album is Delicate. I have to admit this is not a song I particularly enjoyed. The overuse of synths to alter her vocals is frustrating and feels overly artificial.
Next up is the smash hit Look what you made me do. The song has an incredible drum beat before building towards the chorus. The repetitive claps and keyboard undoubtedly means this song will be incredible live. The lyrical content of this song begins to show Taylor in a new light. Showing a more mature and tougher side to her.
The rest of the album is equally impressive, however the two stand out songs are Dress and New Years Day.
Dress is a beautifully crafted love letter by Taylor. This song is perfect as a slow jam where couples can dance together. The storytelling as always is fantastic and the minimalist nature of the music really adds to the atmosphere of the song. No other song on the album sounds like this song and really adds a refreshing change in pace.
The final song of the album New Years Day is a stripped back song that does not use the electro or synth sounds used in the rest of the album. Instead it is just the piano and vocals of Taylor. It feels like a throwback to some of her stripped back songs from her debut album and is great addition to Reputation. It shows that Taylor Swift is not just a typical pop star but is an incredibly gifted artist who can deliver songs in numerous genres and excel in them.
I rate this album 5/5. Taylor has not settled and become complacent following 1989. The new sound, lyrical content and image shows her determination to push the boundaries and herself unlike any other artist. However, as with all her albums what makes it great is her ability to showcase her experiences, emotions and relationships. This ability means she is relatable to her legions of fans and anyone in the world. Many pop stars once they have made it lose this. This is why she truly stands out amongst her peers.