By Teresa Ugarte
Taylor Swift is in love, everyone. Shout it from the rooftops, name your new album “Lover,” maybe-are-secretly-engaged in love. It’s almost unheard of for an artist to hit their seventh album and still be at the top of their game, but somehow after 13 years in the business, Swift is still absolutely crushing it.
“Lover” may just be Swift’s best album yet. It pulls the best elements from her other work; lyrically a combination of “Red” and “Speak Now” and produced in a similar style to “1989.” “Red” suffered slightly by being the transitional album between pop and country, leading it to be stylistically confused. “Lover” doesn’t have this problem, landing squarely in the pop market, save the singular country ballad “Soon You’ll Get Better,” a collaboration with the Dixie Chicks. Although it’s not as sonically cohesive as “1989,” I actually prefer the diversity of “Lover.” Songs in “1989” tend to blend together, whereas in “Lover” each song has a distinct sound that’s easy to pick out from the others, while still managing to feel like the same album.
“Lover” is also the first album that Swift owns. Her previous label, Big Machine Records, recently sold the masters to all of Swift’s previous albums to Ithaca Holdings, a company owned by music producer Scooter Braun, who Swift accused of “incessant, manipulative bullying” over several years. Swift has vowed to re-record all her old songs starting in November of 2020, but in the meantime, she released “Lover,” which she owns the masters to.
“This album is very much a celebration of love, in all its complexity, coziness, and chaos,” Swift said. “It’s the first album of mine that I’ve ever owned, and I couldn’t be more proud,” she said on social media upon the album’s release.
There are so many excellent tracks on this album it’s difficult to pick a top three, or even a top five. “Cruel Summer” is the perfect summer single, “Cornelia Street” plays with the idea of potential heartbreak in a way that’s actually heartbreaking, “I Think He Knows” has a chorus so pop-y it’s difficult to not dance along, “Death By a Thousand Cuts” has one of Swift’s best bridges ever, and “Daylight” is a perfect closer, shedding every ounce of heartbreak and sadness Swift has channelled into her previous six albums, replacing it with blinding, golden love.
Other stand-out tracks include “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince,” a political anthem slyly packaged in a “Riverdale”-like high school setting; “London Boy,” a silly and fun shoutout to her current boyfriend’s British roots and “Soon You’ll Get Better,” an agonizing country ballad about her mother’s battle with cancer.
As with every Taylor Swift album, there are a couple duds. “The Archer,” which got the coveted track five position (in the past, track five has been home to Swift’s most poignant and personal songs, like “All Too Well” and “Delicate”), starts slow and never manages to pick itself up. “Me!” this album’s inexplicable lead single, was slightly improved by the removal of Swift yelling “Hey kids, spelling is fun!” before the bridge, but remains a pretty meh song overall. But with 18 songs, it’s pretty impressive that only two or three of them really sag. The track order is also sort of odd, bouncing back and forth between happy-go-lucky and heartbreak. Going from the bright, poppy “London Boy” straight into the devastating “Soon You’ll Get Better” gives you a bit of emotional whiplash.
Overall, “Lover” is a must-listen for Swift fans and non-fans alike. The writing is absolutely stellar, with some of Swift’s best bridges and hooks ever. Although the jury’s still out among fans as to whether “Lover” is Swift’s best album of all time, it’s certainly a top contender.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Taylor Swift’s Facebook page.
Teresa Ugarte is a sophomore English major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.