Released: November 10, 2017 (Big Machine Records)
Approximately every two-to-three years, Taylor Swift releases a studio album. And, if we all didn’t notice (which y’all should notice by now, because it sticks out like the Christmas shopping promos in October…), but majority of the content on her album’s deal with her private life… that goes public. The tabloid mess with her lovers. The tabloid mess with her frenimies. The tabloid mess over constant rumours. Or just tabloid mess in general. But with her new album Reputation—her sixth record overall—Ms. Thang isn’t playing the sweetheart no more… she’s playing a bad-ass chick with some killer tunes.
If any of you guys didn’t get a load of Tay Tay’s opening track “…Ready For It?”, a heavy electroclash number with dark undertones of trap elements, you can tell that she isn’t playing around, which is what I actually kinda love about this record. She’s not gon’ just stand in one spot playing her guitar and sing some gooey love song crap all the time (no tea no shade), but she wants to evoke a complete transformation from her beginnings to now. “Look At What You Made Me Do” is another perfect example of this; it’s not a sweet revenge scenario, it’s a scathing dark pop number that speaks utter shadiness, which I live for! The backing track—and her flat-as-F rapping—is another story; it’s definitely not the best track here, nor is it that exciting, but it’s clearly the backbone of this entire project. Another track that has Tay Tay project her words like daggers is the R&B throwback “I Did Something Bad”, which is pretty suitable towards the album’s entire vibe.
But just as that entire rush opens the album, Tay Tay starts to fall back into her old habits with troubled love, cutesy love, and… well just love. “So It Goes…” is a retro synthpop number that blends beautifully with her echoing vocals, whereas the drum ‘n’ bass-influenced jam “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” is a complete banger, mixing sugary synths with a sick chorus. These two are easily the highlights of the album, and I could see them being as singles (if Tay Tay reads this haha). “Call It What You Want” and “King of My Heart” are two interesting songs with very minimalistic trap elements, bearing a more story-telling vibe with lick vocal deliveries during the choruses and verses. And, speaking of interesting, probably the most unpredictable aspect is that this is one of her first album’s to have featuring artists; the album’s second track, “End Game”, features Ed Sheeran and Future, both spittin’ some fire whereas Taylor’s harmonising voice glues all three of them together to produce a pretty well-crafted hit.
But despite the admirable move into solid electronic pop, the remaining parts of the album start to sound like fillers. Not that the tracks are bad per say, but considering Reputation seeks inspiration from what’s currently on the radio (or every thing in the top 40 right now…), I found a lot of the production quite generic, which is primarily handled by long-time collaborator Max Martin and Shellback. Tracks like “Don’t Blame Me”, “Delicate”, “Dress” and “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Thing” literally sound like songs that are already in the charts… right now. It doesn’t really showcase the new Tay Tay in true form, and I feel they like the big fillers to the record. “New Year’s Day”, the only ballad here, just seems out of place. It’s not really exciting in my opinion, with it’s slightly timid instrumentation, and it closes the record in an awkward rut. And while “Getaway Car” is a perfect slide of progressive pop, it literally sounds like something out of a Broods or Lorde record.
Whatever the case maybe, I think it’s pretty clear by now that Taylor Swift is a bold artist that can easily shift from one genre to another. And it’s very apparent that she’s been wanting to make a record like Reputation; Red offered a few glimpse into Swift’s more carefree side, but never worked cohesively. 1989 did a better job, mirroring the contemporary pop route, though it came off a lil’ bit of a desperate challenge. Here, despite the iffy moments, Reputation is Taylor’s most accessible and intensifying effort yet. It’s very consistent through it’s sound, and her overall approach and image has definetly grown from since three years ago. Tay Tay is no longer the girl singing the “Tim McGraw” song, she’s a fully-grown woman with a fiery intelligence that displays well on Reputation. So, it’s pretty clear; the old Taylor can’t come to phone right now… why? Uhh, well… she’s dead.
Track list (Bold means best tracks)
- …Ready For It?
- End Game (feat. Ed Sheeran and Future)
- I Did Something Bad
- Don’t Blame Me
- Look At What You Made Me Do
- So It Goes… *Liam’s favourite*
- Getaway Car
- King of My Heart
- Dancing With Our Hands Tied
- This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Thigns
- Call It What You Want
- New Year’s Day