Album Review: Taylor Swift - Lover

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Gone are the days of a fantasy-focused Taylor Swift; in ‘Lover,’ she instead finds beauty in a world marred by imperfections.

Swift released her seventh studio album Friday – the first published under Universal Music Group/Republic Records and the first she owns. With 18 songs, the record could have easily been packed with fillers, but every track feels absolutely crucial in telling the story of a public figure who finds comfort from a cruel world in the arms of those important to her. Swift sheds the need for public adoration and past relationships through ‘Lover,’ leaving in its place a newfound focus on the kinds of love that really matter.

Setting the scene for a sonically diverse – yet perfectly connected – album, the songwriter begins her journey of moving on in ‘I Forgot That You Existed.’ The track bounces the album’s narrative past Swift’s old relationships. In lines like “It isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference,” the final word is spoken – Swift can’t be bothered to finish singing the lyrics because she’s so over the past.

The upbeat energy continues into ‘Cruel Summer,’ the rumoured-to-be third single off the album. The lyrics paint the picture of her contradictory new romance – an “unbreakable heaven” but also a “cruel summer.” If it’s to be a single, the song’s sure to storm radio airplay in coming weeks.

The album’s namesake follows, and Swift has fallen for this “fever dream” from the prior track. Beautifully stripped-back guitar and drums play behind the album’s most romantic song. Mimicking wedding vows, Swift sings “I take this magnetic force of a man to be my lover” as the bridge reaches its emotional crescendo.

In case anyone forgot, Swift has often made tabloid headlines for her “feuds” within both relationships and the celebrity realm. But in ‘The Man’ and ‘The Archer,’ she toys with the idea of how others perceive her.

In the first, she realises that the world tears women down for the same things they let slide for men. In the second, she wistfully confides to her new romantic interest that her past missteps often hurt people. Early verses say, “Who could stay?” but the track ultimately ends with “You could stay,” as Swift accepts that this new relationship is made to survive.

Later tracks further explore the concept of lasting love despite an environment that is certainly not picture-perfect. ‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’ sounds similar to her prior album, ‘reputation’ – her voice is filtered through a synthesizer at times and the bridge screams with raw emotion – but it luckily comes off more genuine.

In an album so focused on love, Swift’s artfully mastered storytelling makes ‘Lover’ relatable to all audiences, including those without a significant other in their lives.