After emerging from a self-enforced exile from the public eye after “she felt like her personal life was spinning out of control,” Taylor Swift’s new album, “Reputation,” was released Nov. 10, marking the return of one of pop music’s biggest stars.
As she has in the past, Swift presents us with a selection of funky electronic pop beats that mend shockingly well with her catchy and ear-pleasing lyrics. Swift’s lyrics are, as always, well written and a high point of the album. Even the title of the album, “Reputation,” is a hint that listeners are about to hear a defense of the pop star’s new style. She’s been a source of divide among pop fans since arriving in the pop music scene and this album is Swift’s response to how she has been treated by the media and music fans in the past few years. For example, the “Famous” controversy with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, the criticism of her love life and even the recent Calvin Harris ghostwriting scandal.
The album begins a whole new chapter of the artist’s career, beyond the days of songs such as “Love Story.” Instead, fans are given a look into the new Swift. Swift, as she has in the past, limited the number of famous collaborators that appear on “Reputation” — only her close friend Ed Sheeran and rapper Future appear together on a four minute hip-hop flavored party anthem, “End Game,” which hits all the right notes.
Swift is trying hard to show fans she’s not the squeaky clean pop star she used to be. “I Did Something Bad” is an obvious symbol of this. Swift sings, “I can feel the flames on my skin/Crimson red paint on my lips/If a man talks s—, then I owe him nothing/I don’t regret it one bit, ’cause he had it coming.” Swift is no longer the girl next door, but it’s still difficult to buy into the “darker” version of her that’s presented on the album. The album’s length is unfortunately damaging to “Reputation’s” overall impact. The high-hat and snare drum electronic beats blend together by the time you reach the meat of the album. “King of My Heart” is a redeemable track, but gets somewhat lost in the white noise of the last half hour of the album.
Swift’s writing is still a high point of “Reputation” but overall lacks soul. The songs sound manufactured rather than organic. “Reputation” isn’t a bad album — it’s a solid piece of work from a talented artist — but like Miley Cyrus’ post-Disney “wild child” phase, the whole album felt forced. The blatant attempts to appeal to Swift’s target demographic reek of focus group-based production. After about the third song, listeners may want to tell Swift to stop shoving her new persona down their throats. The album is good, as long as listeners know what they’re listening to.
“Reputation” is currently available on iTunes for purchase and is expected to be available for streaming in the near future, but it’ll be kept off streaming services for at least the first week of release according to Swift’s representatives.