Graphic by Emily Brinkman
Light, airy and immensely positive, Taylor Swift’s “Lover” has the singer-songwriter returning to form while keeping up with the style of pop that has been present for her past couple records.
Taylor Swift has made a name for herself as an artist whose personal life and associated drama is embedded in nearly every song’s lyrics. With past albums littered with recurring references to tabloid scandals and A-list boyfriends, one might expect “Lover” to take the same route, which makes its lighthearted vibe that much more pleasant. “Lover” steps out of Taylor’s typical, bittersweet, upset and stands as a celebration of light, love and oneself.
These past few years have been a publicity whirlwind for Swift as she has declared political stances while still having her social media pumped full of snake emojis thanks to the infamous, leaked 2016 phone call with attorney-wannabe Kim Kardashian. Outrage over her previous political silence compacted with having lost her masters to a grown man who demands to be called “Scooter,” Taylor Swift has largely been forced into the activist role she now takes on. “Lover” is Taylor Swift stepping aside from the silence that has cursed her in the past and moving towards being the light, dreamy and adoring pop star she shines as.
“I Forgot That You Existed” sets the tone for “Lover” as a change of pace and overall tone for Taylor’s music. Where other tracks about haters can come across as a pity party, “I Forgot That You Existed” is Taylor’s track that symbolizes her growth as she proclaims that she simply forgot her doubters existed. The song stands as a highlight in Taylor’s discography as she uplifts the ideas of independence and friendship and ignores the negative people attempting to dampen her reign.
Some of the best tracks from this album have a throwback vibe like with the 80s influenced “Cruel Summer” that has throbbing synths and an explosive chorus. The 80s influence is heavily felt on “Lover” with other tracks like “The Archer” and “Cornelia Street,” which can be expected from the notably nostalgic “1989” artist.
One of Taylor’s best tracks, “Paper Rings,” stands out as one that takes influence from 2000s pop-punk bands and 60s girl groups. It is nearly impossible not to scream the bridge of the song in your car, reinforcing Taylor’s girl-next-door relatability.
Where the album has its high peaks like “Paper Rings,” there are also the middling, filler tracks like “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” which are incredibly childish in lyrical content. Not only is it childish, “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” sounds like Taylor is cosplaying as 2015 Halsey. An abundance of positivity is more than likely to come packaged with the hints of try-hard corniness appearing on tracks like “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince.”
Albums about love in 2019 are not complete without at least one song dedicated to non-straight people, which comes with “You Need to Calm Down.” Some might find themselves to be nauseous at the blatant pandering with lyrics like “because shade never made anybody less gay.” Sure, Taylor might be late to the game in terms of gay pandering, but Lady Gaga is too busy selling makeup right now, and it is important to have at least one ally willing to put drag queens on television.
Taylor’s growth is seen throughout the album from the sexual references to the politically-charged lyrics. Growth is most obvious in how Taylor has discussed her relationship with Joe Alwyn, both in music and interviews. The effort put into keeping the grit of their relationship private shows how much Taylor has learned from her previous controversies.
Where the record begins to fall off is its length. At 18 tracks, “Lover” takes at least an hour out of one’s day. In the age of streaming, albums like this thrive as they are easy to leave on replay and gather streams for the artist and label. However, that does not mean these tracks are all necessary. A few of these tracks, like “Me!” and “London Boy,” could have been left on the cutting room floor in favor of creating the more concrete 12-track album that is hidden amongst filler.
Taylor Swift continues to grow and learn more about herself and the world around her, as can be seen throughout her latest album. While there are obnoxious tracks like “Me!” and “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” there is more good than bad on this album. “Lover” is in no way a perfect album, but it is Taylor’s best and most adult-sounding album yet.