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Album Review: Taylor Swift’s newest album The Tortured Poets Department has something for every type of Swiftie

JagWire reporter Maddie Martin shares her opinions and analysis of Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department”
Album+Review%3A+Taylor+Swifts+newest+album+The+Tortured+Poets+Department+has+something+for+every+type+of+Swiftie
By Quin Peters

Taylor Swift’s new album “The Tortured Poets Department” (TTPD) was released Friday April, 18 at midnight. This marks Swift’s 11th studio album, (Excluding her re-records.) The album is also Swift’s first release after her split from long time boyfriend Joe Alwyn. Hours after the release of the album, Swift released “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” featuring an additional 15 songs. JagWire reporter Maddie Martin examines similarities and differences to Swift’s previous albums and shares her thoughts on the original 16 songs from “The Tortured Poets Department.”

The Tortured Poets Department
Fortnight (feat. Post Malone)

This song has been promoted as the single for the album with an accompanying music video which perfectly captures the vibe of the album with its gothic Victorian era black and white aesthetic. I predicted I wouldn't like this song since previous Post Malone collaborations such as his version of “Dial Drunk” with Noah Kahan were not my cup of tea. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Post Malone's airy backing vocals and part in the bridge bring an entirely different feeling to the song which enhanced the listening experience instead of taking away from it.

The Tortured Poets Department

The title track provides a litany of lyrics for listeners to unpack that could be easter eggs about her life or simply figments of her imagination. This song, unlike others on the album, doesn't feel overproduced. The song also features my favorite parts of her songwriting style, the storytelling and clever observations. Some of my personal favorites are, “I think some things I never say like/ ‘Who uses typewriters anyway.’” As well as “You're not Dylan Thomas and I'm not Patti Smith/ This ain’t the Chelsea Hotel/ Were modern idiots.”

My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys

With the third track on this album, we get a taste of Taylor Swift’s cleverness as she reflects on a past relationship in which her boy “only breaks his favorite toys.” Unlike a lot of her breakup songs, there is no self reflection here; it's more like “I Bet You Think About Me” in the sense that she is upset about the breakup but at the same time she's rolling her eyes at his choice to end it. I really enjoyed the way Swift sings in the verses, the order and cadence with which she sings makes it addicting to listen to.

Down Bad

Many fans of Swift have noticed that this song might be about her two-month-long relationship with the 1975 frontman Matty Healy with lyrics like “I loved your hostile takeovers/ Encounters closer and closer/ All your indecent exposures.” These might allude to Healy's controversial public presence. While I'm not generally a fan of songs with lots of synths and heavy production, this one is well done and I have found myself going back to more than I thought I would when I initially heard it.  

So Long, London

This song is by far the saddest song on the album; it is truly heart-crushing. Swift sings about wondering where the relationship went wrong and being torn between wanting him back and also needing to let go. There are multiple references to Swift's relationship with Joe Alwyn, the pair broke up in April 2023 shortly after the beginning of Swift's Eras Tour. Lyrics like “You swore that you loved me but where were the clues?” and “I’m just mad as hell cause I loved this place for so long, London” hit me like a brick wall. Swift sings every word so passionately making it impossible to finish listening with dry eyes.  

But Daddy I Love Him

This song is currently my absolute favorite on the album. I have never wished more to have a forbidden love or to scream at my parents while running through a field screaming “But daddy I love him.” This song is a perfect Romeo and Juliet moment that feels so perfectly Taylor Swift from the melodrama to the sincerity of it. In the chorus, she sings “I’m telling him to floor it through the fences/ No I'm not coming to my senses.” This song pairs well with the rest of the songs with its airy melody and compelling songwriting. 

Fresh Out The Slammer

With this album, Swift is giving the listener a master class on hidden meanings, easter eggs and dissecting deeper meanings. This song specifically is one someone could spend hours dissecting. She sings about finally getting to see her baby after being freed from what I believe to be a metaphorical jail, with her own mind being the jail in this case. Swift once again showcases her vocal range when she sings in a breathy tone about how there's “No way I'm gonna screw up now that I know what's at stake.” While this song isn't necessarily my favorite on the album, I can appreciate the lyricism.  

Florida!!! (feat. Florence + The Machine

When the tracklist was released, I predicted that “Fresh Out The Slammer” would be the sequel to a previous Swift song off “evermore” titled “no body no crime.” However, after a thorough listen, I actually think “Florida!!!” creates a more compelling argument. Lyrics like “And your cheating husband disappeared/ Well no one asks any questions here.” And “Little did you know your homes really only the town you’ll get arrested in.” The vocals of Florence Welch, lead singer of Florence + The Machine,  sound amazing on this track giving it even more depth. While I adore the harmonies Welch and Swift create, I don't love the overall sound. The overpowering percussion in the chorus feels very overwhelming when listening. 

Guilty As Sin?

Amongst all the sad girl songs like “loml” or “So Long, London” this song is a small breath of fresh air. It's a little mischievous and sultry. It is definitely one I find myself going back to. Melodically, it sounds sparkly and glittery similar to other songs like “Bejeweled” or “mirrorball.” It was one song that has been stuck in my head nonstop, proving just how good Swift is at writing songs that will stick with all kinds of listeners. 

Who's Afraid Of Little Old Me?

This song feels a little bit out of place on this album. Not just musically but also lyrically. It has a scary or eerie vibe with lyrics that appear to be a mix of bits about Swift's real life and also an imaginary world. While I don’t inherently dislike the song, it doesn't feel like it matches any of the other themes and that makes it less enjoyable to listen to, compared to other songs on the album. It also sounds just a bit overproduced for my taste. One of my favorite things about Swift's albums “folklore” and “evermore” is how raw they were. I think this song would have benefited from that sort of feel as opposed to a loud, very produced pop sound.  

I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)

This song is one that seemed to kind of get lost in the mix of the others. There is no catchy chorus to draw you in and no foot-stomping beat to interest the listener. One thing I think this song does well is that it is very interesting musically. When you listen closely, there are some intriguing musical moments specifically in the first few verses which bring some interest to the song. However, the song doesn't build into anything. As you listen, you are left wondering when it's going to pick up and it doesn't seem to, making it unmemorable in the grand scheme of the album. 

loml

I originally thought the song was titled “loml” meaning love of my life but upon further listening, I actually think this is the quintessential break up song. The acronym actually meaning loss of my life. Behind all the dramatic haze and beauty of the album, this song feels real. The simple piano track reminds me so much of the piano version of “Forever & Always” from Swift's album “Fearless,” which also has a sad, regretful breakup feeling. She longs for the relationship back but also wonders what went wrong.

I Can Do It With A Broken Heart

I rarely like a song the first time I hear it, but when I heard this song, I actually got up and danced around my room and then played it three times in a row. It has the perfect Taylor Swift vibe, a memorable chorus, a danceable beat and relatable lyrics, it is perfect. Who doesn't want to dance around to lyrics like “I'm so depressed I act like it's my birthday/ Every day/ I cry a lot but I am so productive/ It's an art.” For those casual Swifties out there who aren't sure where to start with this album, I would start here as it is a classic Swift pop song guaranteed to make you want to dance. 

The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived

When first listening to an album there are always songs you love when you first hear and others that take time,I thought “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” would grow on me but it really hasn't. I think my biggest critique would be that it feels boring. As I was listening I was waiting for it to build into something or to have a big loud breakthrough more like “Who's Afraid Of Little Old Me” but it never really got there leaving me feeling disappointed. 

The Alchemy

For all my Kansas City Chiefs fans wondering which song on this new album is about Travis Kelce, my pick is going to have to be “The Alchemy.” It’s littered with sports references which might very well be too obvious for Swift. She mentions teams in her song “Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince” but she doesn't mean actual teams, more figurative teams. When listening you can't help but crack a smile at the cuteness of how in love this song feels. Almost like a sequel to “Guilty As Sin?” This song is curious about a relationship, wanting to see where it goes. For me, this song took a few listens to really like but it is now a song I look forward to when listening. 

Clara Bow

While I think there were other songs that could have worked as an ending track, “Clara Bow” to me feels very satisfying. There are so many stories across this album but this calm, soothing beautiful song is a great way to leave the listener at the end of the album. The song details the story of a young girl swept into fame, she is described as famous actress Clara Bow then singer Stevie Nicks and then as Taylor Swift. The song could be a comment on how Swift feels about fame. My favorite thing about this song is that it fits so well with the rest of the album; it's juvenile but sincere and dramatic while being perfectly raw.

“The Tortured Poets Department” surprised me, it was equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking, it felt like all the good parts of life and all the bad, and it feels like Taylor Swift in this moment. Maybe this won’t be who she is in a year but right now it feels very genuine and that is what I love about it. My personal favorite tracks are currently “But Daddy I Love Him” and “The Tortured Poets Department” but I’m sure as I listen more new favorites will emerge. I think this album has something for every kind of listener, from the casual listener to the Swifties digging deep for easter eggs. Themes of freedom and youth as well as heartbreak and happiness run through the album; all things anyone can relate to.  

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About the Contributors
Maddie Martin
Maddie Martin, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is sophomore Maddie Martin’s first year on the JagWire staff. She is looking forward to writing and taking pictures for the JagWire. She is on the golf team and is a part of Relay for Life. Outside of school she volunteers with National Charity League. She spends her free time hanging out with her friends and family, listening to music and watching sports.  
Quin Peters
Quin Peters, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is sophomore Quin Peters’ first year on the JagWire staff. She will be exploring the roles of writer and designer for the newspaper this year. Outside of school, Quin crochets, reads, writes creatively and is involved in art. Quin is a member of several clubs at the school, including National Art Honor Society, Youth for Refugees, Women’s Empowerment, Scholars Bowl, Creative Writing Club and Model UN.

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