You have to wonder how Taylor Swift picks her lead singles for her upcoming music. With cheesy ‘Me!’ and misguided but well-meaning ‘You Need to Calm Down’, the direction Swift was taking her seventh album Lover in was unclear and confusing. However, Lover is an album full of heartfelt lyrics and catchy choruses that marks a return to Swift’s pre-Reputation days of bright, electrifying pop.
The album opens on a slightly misleading note with ‘I Forgot That You Existed’, which at first comes across as Swift still being stuck in the Reputation era and recounting her celebrity feuds again. However, this is the last we hear of her grudges, as we quickly move on to ‘Cruel Summer’ and the album’s overarching themes of romance and love. It’s satisfying to hear Swift finally content and experiencing the romance she pined for as a teenager in her earlier work, after years of heartbreak, controversies, and hate. Despite shying away from interviews in the last few years and keeping her private life to herself, her song-writing is still deeply personal and shows maturity and growth from her previous work. In ‘Daylight’, Swift remarks how she was wrong in thinking love was “burning red”, reflecting back to her fourth album Red. In ‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’, Swift cleverly uses high school culture and cheerleaders to show her disdain of the current American political situation, whilst also signalling her departure from the American patriotism she has been tied to since her country hit, ‘You Belong With Me’.
Lover also sees a brief yet emotional return to Swift’s country roots in exploring familial love and loss in ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ featuring Dixie Chicks. Swift heartbreakingly captures the feelings of helplessness whilst trying to process grief. The simplicity of the instrumentals and the haunting harmonies create a moving piece that is one of Swift’s most poignant songs of her entire career.
Despite her poor single choices, Lover is one of Swift’s strongest albums yet. It has all the aspects of her previous work, yet still produces a new sound that is distinctively hers. Lover feels like both a beginning and an end in this particular era of Swift’s music: the perfect, fairy-tale ending to her days of heartbreak, and the beginning of a new chapter as part of a record label that finally allows her to have full ownership of all of her future music.
[Eilidh Reid – she/her – @eilidhlesen]