The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

More Tortuous than Poetic: Taylor Swift’s Bland and Bloated New Album

Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift

Having been a casual Taylor Swift listener and enjoyer for most of my life at this point, I have no ill will toward the popstar herself or anyone affiliated with her. I still believe she’s a very talented individual and deserves a lot of the accolades and praise she’s been given over the years. 

That being said, I’m also not afraid to say that “The Tortured Poets Department” might be her worst album to date.

This record sees Swift at her most formulaic, hollow and phoned-in. For over an hour, Swift and company fail to spark any variety or take any risks. I think the biggest issue that plagues this record though, and her last album “Midnights” for that matter, is the stale Jack Antonoff production. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved a lot of Antonoff’s previous work, whether it be for other major popstars or his own music, but as he’s worked with Swift for about a decade now, this record is further proof that their partnership is more than faded.

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I find a lot of the production by The National’s Aaron Dessner far more interesting and refreshing, giving the record that “folklore” and “evermore” feeling to an extent. So, as far as Antonoff goes, I think he’s better off at focusing on other, more exciting collaborations from now on.

Don’t think Swift herself is out of the woods just like that though. This record is home to some of her cringiest and most unoriginal lyrics I’ve ever heard her pen. It just seems like she cares more about being “relatable” and shoving as many buzzwords and relevant phrases down everyone’s throat as possible rather than giving these tracks actual substance and depth. There’s not an “All Too Well” adjacent track in sight on this album, that’s for sure.

One of my favorite songs here, “Florida!!!,” struggles from this very issue, even if some of the instrumental choices and Florence Welch inclusion are far more interesting than half of these tracks. And it just continues to get worse over the course of the record and even on to the “Anthology.” Where I will say, has a bit more going for it production wise, but overall, the mediocre songwriting and rather boring instrumentals doesn’t make it much more memorable than the standard release. It really just feels more like a streaming ploy than anything else. Releasing a whole other album and calling it an “extension” or “reissue” doesn’t excuse the sleep-inducing deep cuts.

I barely have anything to say about specific tracks here because of just how monotonous and shallow each song is. They all seem to meld together in my brain without anything special to differentiate one song from another. I don’t know if it’s from Swift trying too hard or not trying at all. Either way this record is a guaranteed cure for insomnia.

“The Tortured Poets Department” is Swift’s fourth release in less than two years and it really shows. The lack of variety, enthusiasm and overall care some of these tracks give off is enough to have even the biggest Swifties out there realize that this album is lesser than almost everything else she’s released. I will at least say that it isn’t unlistenable. There are definitely some notable moments, from catchy hooks, nice melodies and just a lot of Dessner’s contributions. But overall, it’s really nothing all that special. 

Taylor, take a nap.

My rating: 5.3/10

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About the Contributor
Eli Bland
Eli Bland, Arts Editor
Eli Bland is a Multimedia Communications major with a minor in English. Eli has had a passion for music and the arts since a young age and writing has always been his favorite way to express that. Being the Arts Editor at the Decaturian, his main focus has been on new album reviews, listicles and keeping up with Millikin's many art programs. He hopes to continue his journalism journey after graduation.

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