Taylor Swift has been a powerhouse in the music industry for more than a decade. Despite becoming somewhat of a pariah in 2016 after a snippet of a secretly recorded phone conversation between her and rapper Kanye West went viral, the “Bad Blood” singer shook it off. Her 2017 album, “Reputation,” became the highest-selling album of the year with more than 1.2 million copies sold in its first week.
While it might be tough for Swift to break her own record, her seventh album, “Lover,” released Aug. 23, is already on track to become the highest-selling album of 2019, with more than 450,000 sales in its first day.
In accordance with her past albums, “Lover” continues to surprise listeners. While it has similar production style and lyrical content to her pop albums — “1989” and “Reputation” — the singer’s seventh album has abandoned all resentment and vengeance for affection and self-reflection.
“Lover” begins with “I Forgot That You Existed,” a sassy, vibrant and ear-catching tune that celebrates the joy of moving on. Swift laughs her way through the song, getting more and more giggly as she sings about forgetting someone who used to cause her pain.
“I forgot that you existed / It isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference,” she sings matter-of-factly.
Certain songs on “Lover” are as attention-grabbing and electric as lit-up neon signs. The album’s second track, “Cruel Summer,” conjures a feeling of driving down a highway at night with a summer fling. The emotionally vulnerable “The Archer” is reminiscent of ‘80s synth pop, an oft-employed sound in Swift’s music and a signature of her co-producer on the album, Jack Antonoff of the band Bleachers.
“Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” has a similar effect, as it hauntingly hyperbolizes the drama of a high school romance with a twist on the “Go! Fight! Win!” cheerleader chant.
“And I don’t want you to go / I don’t really wanna fight / ‘Cause nobody’s gonna win,” Swift sings.
Swift has been outwardly feminist since 2014 and on track four, “The Man,” she sings about the frustrations of double standards, especially within the music industry. In this flashy and catchy bop, Swift considers how her actions would be perceived differently if she were the opposite sex, and the lyrics “When everyone believes you / What’s that like?” is likely a reference to the #MeToo movement.
If the name doesn’t already give it away, “Lover” is a love album before anything else. Swift has been happily dating English actor Joe Alwyn since 2016, and the pair are rumored to be getting married after Swift liked a Tumblr post suggesting the two are engaged.
Swift makes plenty of room for songs about Alwyn on the album, from the adorable “Paper Rings” to the flirty “London Boy,” but the album’s title track is by far the most romantic, heartwarming and satisfying. “Lover” forgoes the flashy beats and synthesizers for a slow, steady rhythm that sounds how long-term love feels.
The most touching song on the album — and the hardest to listen to — is “Soon You’ll Get Better (feat. Dixie Chicks),” a country-esque ballad that shares the hardships of the return of Swift’s mother’s cancer.
Those who have watched a loved one suffer from illness won’t feel their heartstrings being plucked, but ripped clean out instead. The song is honest, brutal and backing vocals by the Dixie Chicks make it a standout on the libretto.
While the baby pink and blue aesthetic of “Lover” is a perfect follow-up to the gritty and dark “Reputation” in many ways, the album is not without its flaws, the most prominent of which is its length. With 18 songs, “Lover” clocks in at one hour and one minute, which wouldn’t be as burdensome if every song were as moving as “The Archer,” as fun as “London Boy” or as heart-wrenching as “Death By A Thousand Cuts.”
Instead, the most disappointing tracks — such as the monotonous “False God,” the forgettable “Afterglow” and the exasperating lead single “ME! (feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco)” — are packed in at the end, which will make some listeners want to skip four or five songs to get to the finale.
The album closes with “Daylight,” a self-reflective track that sounds like shimmering gold and comes with a reference to Swift’s 2012 song “Red.”
“I once believed love would be burning red / But it’s golden / Like daylight,” Swift sings.
“Daylight” ends with a spoken outro as Swift says she wants to be defined by what she loves, not what she hates or fears.
“I just think that you are what you love,” she says as a simple piano melody fades out.
“Lover” is now streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.