It is fair to say that Taylor Swift’s last album, Reputation, was divisive between fans and critics alike. Thankfully, Lover, her seventh studio album, is a such a much needed palette cleanser.
‘I Forgot That You Existed’, the opening track, acts as a musical disinfectant and marks a clear breakaway from Swift’s experimental Reputation era. Lover is full of upbeat, “commercial” tracks which, at first listen, might make you think that this marks the long-awaited return of the old Taylor. However, when you take the time to really dissect the lyrics, you hear a mature and polished Swift who is finally ready to own up to her mistakes. ‘The Archer’, the fifth track, is the best example of this. It’s filled with dichotomies like “I’ve been the archer/I’ve been the prey” that perfectly encapsulates Swift’s struggle with how the world perceives her and the part she’s played in creating that image.
The album is an examination of Swift’s love for love, familiar territory for the singer. But while her earlier songs revolve around how she imagines love feels like with someone and the spectacles that will come with it, through Swift’s imaginative lyricism, Lover creates an incredibly intimate picture and that’s why one can resonate with it almost instantly. Any listener can find a song that they can relate to; from her singing of the risk taken when giving your heart to someone in ‘Cornelia Street’ to the visceral fear all children with a sick parent face in ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ (based on Swift’s mother’s own battle with cancer).
That said, there are a couple of misses. One burning question being why would you make ‘Me!’ the first single when tracks like ‘Cruel Summer’ (a much better representation of the album) were right there? ‘You Need to Calm Down’, her supposed gay-rights anthem, comes across as lukewarm and too little too late.
However, the title Lover is well chosen, as Swift reclaims the romanticism that has defined her career. In a way, the old Taylor is back albeit with a more mature and stable perspective. Hopefully, she’s here to stay.
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