Our ears were blessed, our souls were tortured

A surprise double album, Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department’ delivers an emotional, beautifully written body of work for anyone who needs a good cry.
With her storytelling capabilities and lyrical imagery of her country roots, her pop-inspired hooks, general melodic composition and alternative-leaning vocal arrangements, the album is given a solidified “Taylor Swift” sound that is unapologetically unique to her.
With her storytelling capabilities and lyrical imagery of her country roots, her pop-inspired hooks, general melodic composition and alternative-leaning vocal arrangements, the album is given a solidified “Taylor Swift” sound that is unapologetically unique to her.
COURTESY OF SPOTIFY

On the first listen, I hated this album. With a burning passion. 

For some reason, something about the music struck a bad chord with me. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but I was convinced there was nothing redeemable that could make me change my mind. 

I take it back. I take it all back. This album is a work of art.

Swift really meant it when she said it was the Tortured Poets Department. The lyrics are by far one of my favorite parts of this album. All of her various musical influences that have developed throughout her career – country, pop and alternative – shine beautifully throughout her songs. 

With her storytelling capabilities and lyrical imagery of her country roots, her pop-inspired hooks, general melodic composition and alternative-leaning vocal arrangements, the album is given a solidified “Taylor Swift” sound that is unapologetically unique to her. 

The album utilizes a mix of synthesizers, pop beats and acoustic instruments like guitars and pianos to create a subtle blend of both the arranging and songwriting techniques of a more melancholic Lover, Folklore, and Evermore. 

Following Swift’s end of a six year relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn, Swifties across the world knew this album was going to be emotional. But I don’t think we were prepared for how vulnerable and raw this set of music is. 

Even if you haven’t had a terrible breakup, or are in a healthy mental state, the album takes you on such an amazing emotional rollercoaster that her other albums have yet to do. 

Taylor’s mental state portrayed in the album is a far cry from the bright and bubbly persona she exhibits on the stages of The Eras Tour, a struggle brought up in songs like “I Can Do It With A Broken Heart.” With this firsthand view into the mind of the pop singer, this album is not only a love letter to a broken love, it is a reminder that not everything is what it seems, that even the happiest of friends may be hurting inside and just be better at hiding it. 


Similar to the rerecordings, this album feels more mature than her past material – not just in the sound, but also in the approach the emotionally gutting lyrics take to cover topics like heartbreak and a toxic or failing relationship. 

Also, artists write songs differently today than they did when they were 17. However, this growth makes this album a really interesting inside look of how your perspective of life and love changes as you get older. 

Of course, her hits, like “Fortnight,” “Florida!!!,” “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” and others do nothing short of deliver, but almost every single one of her other tracks are just as impactful and well done, with little to no “skips” in the album. 

The tracks are so addictive. I’m sick of a lot of the songs because I can’t stop listening to them, and it’s impossible to choose a favorite.

While the title of “Fortnight-Featuring Post Malone” is a little humorous, given the popularity of the video game with the same name, the song is a well done collaboration. 

However, as great as Post Malone is, I’d have to say that “Florida!!!,” featuring Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, is by far one of the best collaborations Swift has done on her recent albums. Florence’s voice is so mournful and rich, exquisitely pairing with Taylor’s sharper vocal tone throughout the song. 

It is also lightly “rumored” that “thanK you aIMee” is about media personality and ex-wife of rapper Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, because her name is quite literally hidden in the name of the song. Taylor has more to say to the Kardashian about their interactions over the past decade then she ever let on.  

Despite the wholehearted praise I have for this album, I do have a few small problems, mostly with the production. For such a lyrically strong set of music, there could have been less synth and background vocals. 

Overall, I do think the album could have been shorter. 

Yes, the “Anthology” songs are just as good, and one could argue even better than the original set of releases. It was a smart decision to release them.

However, given the attention spans and hectic nature of many people’s schedules, sitting down to listen to an hour long album is difficult enough. 

Many newer fans who are already apprehensive to her music may find it hard to get through the entire album, leaving great songs like “The Black Dog,” “Cassandra” and more hidden away from an audience who deserves to hear their beauty.

     

From a marketing standpoint and a creative perspective, the album sections are so similar yet so different, it may have been more beneficial to release them as separate albums. 

The first part of the album is more pop-influenced, with the synth and background vocals sounding more Midnights-esque. The second part of the album has more piano and guitar, sounding more like Folklore and Evermore. They could have been paired together as “sister albums,” such as the aforementioned Folklore and Evermore.

My initial reaction to the album also got me thinking about the predicament that many run into, with not just Taylor Swift, but practically any music artist. 

Why is it that some music just doesn’t “hit” on the first listen as it does the second or third time? 

Shouldn’t it be if the music is good, you like it on first listen? 

No matter how many listens you need, it’s worth giving this album a try. Just make sure you bring a box of tissues and prepare for a good cry.

My Rating: 9.5/10

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About the Contributor
Adrianna Bean
Adrianna Bean, Staff
Swiftie and first year Journalism writer Adrianna Bean can be found screaming the lyrics to whatever album she’s obsessed with right now (it’s always different). From animation and art, performing in plays and musicals, writing about topics she cares about, to re-reading her favorite books, Adrianna loves a good story, fiction and nonfiction. Story of Us? Love Story? Long Story Short? “The story starts when it was hot and it was summer and…?” She loves them all!
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