“I swear I don’t love the drama—it loves me.” Three years after the release of her album 1989, Taylor Swift is back with Reputation, a bombastic and intimate record full of betrayal and vengeance—and as always, Swift has no hesitation pointing fingers.
While the old Taylor may be dead, her music still acts as an outlet to exhaust and inform the public of all her romantic misfortunes with unnamed men. With Reputation, Swift pulls off retaliation better than ever before; this time even calling herself out with witty lines scattered throughout her songs.
“I’m so chill,” she sings in “So it Goes…,” though she most certainly is not. The media’s attention on Swift is endless. Her relationships, vendettas and even her political views all too often make headlines, putting Swift in an unfavorable light by the media, which the album is in part a response to.
Reputation undoubtedly is a shift for Swift. With electronic beats backing many of the tracks, her image now aligns with the contemporary pop sound. After manufacturing an image of relatability over the course of a decade, Swift readily reveals her sinister side, buzzing with impulse, lust and sin.
With bold lyrics like “only bought this dress so you could take it off” from “Dress” and “darling, you had turned my bed into a sacred oasis,” from “Dancing with Our Hands Tied,” it is clear Swift is long past the era of sparkly fringed dresses, country twangs and teardrops on her guitar—and for the better.
Powerful women like Lorde and Lana Del Ray, who reveal their complexities through their music, are dominating the pop sphere. It’s long overdue for Swift to join in and let her picture-perfect façade fall.
While the album may be full of resentment and unforgiving to an audience she feels has wronged her, this vulnerability presents Swift as her most authentic self yet. Hidden between tracks exuding animosity and spite over booming electronic beats, we are shown a burgeoning, quiet love—a relationship with a man who does not read the tabloids written about her.
In “Delicate,” Swift sings softly, “My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me.” Still, there is a sense of unease in her words when she sings, “Is it cool that I said all that? Is it chill that you’re in my head? ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate.”
Swift pulls from a wide-array of musical genres—hip-hop, R&B and electronic dance music—while never fully allowing them to infiltrate her signature sound. The album is a combined effort of Jack Antonoff and Max Martin, both of whom are credited for helping give 1989 its dreamy 80s synth-pop sound.
While Swift has shifted her sound more toward generic pop, the album is far from conventional. Reputation aptly shows Swift’s skills at their greatest. The most impressive part of it all are the changes in tone Swift undertakes, most notably in the first track, “…Ready for It,” where she moves from heartily rapping back to her usual melodic choruses in the most flawless fashion.
After the three-year wait, Swift’s latest album does not disappoint. Reputation leaves Swift’s country days long forgotten in the dust; even her Red and 1989 eras seem far off.
One thing is for certain: regardless of the sound she’s going for or the message she’s trying to get across, Swift is first and foremost an entertainer, and a damn good one at that.u