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Album Review: The Tortured Poet’s Department

Adela’s take on Taylor’s newest release.
Album Review: The Tortured Poets Department

April 19, 2024. I had two college tours scheduled for later that day, and yet I found myself awake at 1 am. Taylor Swift’s new album The Tortured Poets Department had come out an hour prior, and I had stayed up to listen to it with my aunt. The last notes of “Clara Bow” faded out of my Airpods, I texted my aunt goodnight, and turned over to fall asleep, mentally preparing myself to be up in 5 hours.


6:30 am, April 19, 2024. A DOUBLE ALBUM!!!!!! Is the first thing I texted my aunt the next morning. I thought my jaw was going to hit the floor when I woke up to find out that Swift had released 16 more songs, bringing the album listening time to a grand total of 2 hours, and 2 minutes. I spent the two hour ride to Boston listening to the first half of the album all over again, and listening to the second half for the first time. I firmly believe that in order to give a comprehensive review of anything, you need to give it time to sit. I’ve noticed with the last couple albums Swift has put out, at first, most people have had a problem with themit. There is something or the other that they don’t like about it, but then a couple weeks later, “it’s the best album she’s ever put out”. I know I am the same way;, it takes me a couple listens to come around on her new music, but after that, I love it.


I genuinely enjoyed TTPD. I believe that it’s one of the best albums that she has released. From the synthetic rhythms of Jack Antonoff that are particularly apparent in the first half of the album, to the instrumental roots of Aaron Dessner in the later tracks. By splitting the album in this way between her two main collaborators, she gave her fans exactly what they wanted. The synth-pop girls have songs like “Down Bad”, and “Guilty as Sin”, while the Folklore girls have tracks such as “Cassandra” and “Peter”.


As a Folklore girl myself, I would have thought that the songs I would have on repeat would be in the latter half of the album, but surprisingly, most of them were produced by Antonoff. When the album was first released, “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” was the song that I kept reaching for. It may have been the almost pop-rock type beat, or the way Swift expertly weaved metaphors built on childhood staples, like army dolls and sandcastles, into the song. “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” is the TTPD’s equivalent of the songs “this is me trying” or “mirrorball” on the album Folklore. Which means it also became my anthem on this album. As a girl who cried her way through junior year, and managed to make it out with all A’s except for my one AP class, I relate to this song on a molecular level. I would say that “The Alchemy” is the love song on this album. From being the first song we got about Swift’s relationship with Travis Kelce, the tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, to the strong drumline that makes up the heart of the song. As a hopeless romantic, I fell in love with this song. The idea of coming back into the spotlight after years of hiding in the shadows, only to find “the one” after you step back into your power is a deeply romantic notion.


Songs that are referred to as “skips” generally means that when the song comes up on an album or playlist, whoever is listening hits the “next” button. For me, there were three songs on TTPD that I consistently found myself moving past. When the tracklist for the album came out I had my hopes up that the song “But Daddy I Love Him” was a reference to the little mermaid movie. In a way, my dislike for the song stems from the fact that I went in expecting one thing, and got a whole other circus, rather than just being surprised. A rookie mistake on my part. In reality, Swift discusses the backlash from fans following rumors of her dating Matty Healy. Though as we find out in this album, what happened was far more than rumors. Swift approaches the topic brilliantly, framing it as if the nosey church-goers in a small town are trying to get in between her and her love. While her prose is beautiful, the way that she spoke about her fans being upset about her dating a known racist wasn’t. While the whole situation raised great questions about parasocial relationships, and what lines exist between artist and fans, the way she spoke about it after the fact didn’t sit well with me, and definitely affected my perception of the song. I remember the day that “The Albatross” was announced as a bonus track. That day, I learned that there is a bird named an “Albatross”, and I learned far more facts about this bird than I ever expected. There is nothing particularly wrong with the song, the lyrics are cohesive, sonically it has the sort of whimsy backing strings that I usually love. But it’s just not interesting to me, and I have a short attention span, so it’s usually onto the next song we go. “Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus” is sonically a beautiful song, but the lyrics seem to lack cohesion. Some of this lack of unity may be attributed to the fact that Swift seemed to go for quantity over quality in this album. As an artist, she seems to have this need to constantly one up herself. Nothing is enough anymore when you have run out of records to break.


Do I think that The Tortured Poets Department is Taylor Swift’s best album? Absolutely not. Compared to the likes of the fictional Folklore and Evermore, or even the autobiographical Red, it does not measure up. But, as someone who has been a self- proclaimed swiftie since the Fearless (Taylor’s Version) came out, it was an album I deeply enjoyed. If there is one thing Taylor Swift does well, it’s turn her own life experiences into themes that she can then write about in a way that most women can relate to. Would I also complain if she dropped another 16 songs to the album? Absolutely not. A While as a whole album, it’s not her best, but some of the songs on the album are both some of her best written and produced. Overall, I would give the album an 8.5. It is a very good album, it’s just not Folklore.

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About the Contributor
Adela Furman, Co-Editor In Chief
Hi, I'm Adela! I am current Junior at GHAA, the stage manager for Looking in Theater, and a veteran member of Student Voices. It has been (jokingly) said on occasion that I am the sole reason the building is running. My friends know me best as Dells, and when I am not writing or running the building, you can find me curled up in a corner somewhere reading or crocheting. My favorite kinds of pieces to write are op-eds. I always have something to say, especially if it's about a topic I am passionate about. I started Oh My GHAA! in an attempt to help with the feeling of lacking communication within the building. It is something I struggled with myself, so I was more than over-joyed when The GHAASIP was published last year. Due to the class that was producing it being a half-year course, it was unfortunately discontinued. My dream for this paper it that it will be different. A more developed version of The GHAASIP. Something that will last and be handed down from class to class.
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