Few things make The Maestro happier than the arrival of a new TAYLOR SWIFT record. In fact, one of the things that DOES trump that is watching Mini-Amps frolic all around A&GS HQ when I play said record for him. Because, you may or may not know this, but she is his beloved, his girlfriend whether she knows it or not. But I digress. Three years removed from the grand slam home run that was, is, and always will be 1989, the pop songstress has seen fit to bestow Reputation upon us, an album that sees her literally and figuratively taking on all comers/naysayers and at times spitting venom that can only be rivaled by a King Cobra.
There is so much great stuff on here, especially from a lyrical standpoint, that you’ll find yourself once again drawn in by her siren charms. Taylor is a master manipulator of human emotions because she speaks from experience. She has lived, loved, and gone through it all under intense media scrutiny. And those of us who have been there since the first album, we don’t just hear her songs, we FEEL them in our bones and in our hearts. Once again Shellback and Max Martin are the primary collaborators, and they, Jack Antonoff, and Swift herself (who also serves as an executive producer) are in the producer’s chair for much of the album. The sounds range from bombastic to atmospheric to 80’s-inspired synth pop, and as usual she strikes gold.
Right out of the gate “…Ready For It?” (a prime contender for my Song of the Year) sends a message while setting the tone for this record. This ain’t your momma’s TAYLOR SWIFT, so you need to wrap your head around that, pronto. “Baby, let the games begin” is a fitting line, because the mind games put forth in the lyrics on not only this, but other tracks, tell a tale. “Endgame” features guest stars FUTURE and Ed Sheeran. Now, I’m not really a fan of the modern mumble rappers, but FUTURE has a nice flow on this track. However, the real star of this one is Sheeran. His verse is amazing, and each time these two get together the results are once again magical.
“I Did Something Bad” features Taylor’s first recorded profanity (the horror!) while dishing about some exes, and “Don’t Blame Me” sounds like Ms. Swift is taking us to the Church of Love over a trance-y beat. “Delicate” is one that jumped out at me right away because there’s a certain vulnerability as she coos, “My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me.” This leads us to first single “Look What You Made Me Do,” a song maligned by some pretentious critics, but eaten up by us fans, aka Swifties. I had this bitch on REPEAT for a week straight. I also love that Taylor directed the video. She’s definitely got a future behind the lens should she decide to go that route.
The topic of sex is certainly not off-limits on this record, nor should it be. “I’m not a bad girl, but I do bad things with you” from “So It Goes…” showcases a 27-year old woman who is not afraid to embrace her sexuality at this stage of her life, and “Dress” talks about spilling wine in the bathtub while burning in anticipation of an amorous evening. Honestly, when Taylor breathily sings, “Only bought this dress so you could take it off” it’s hard not to think of her as a sexual being. Let’s face it, she is hotter than Georgia asphalt, so who can blame anyone, right? “Gorgeous” mines the glorious 80’s synth-pop I mentioned earlier, reminding me of ERASURE, a band I’ve loved for decades, and it’s got a nice throwback feel.
One of my absolute favorites since I got the record last night at 11:30 p.m. was “Getaway Car.” The beat, the groove, and Taylor’s vocal delivery make for a sure-fire hit, and when everything comes crashing in at the chorus, this is without a doubt something special. “King of My Heart” talks about the push and pull of being single yet being so attracted to someone you might rethink what it is you want. “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” is so moody and has an ambience you just can’t manufacture, and it’s the kind of song the ladies will want to take off their strappy heels and dance to, no matter where they might be.
“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” is without a doubt one of the record’s best, if for no other reason than it’s a Kim/Kanye diss track. Fuck those two wastes of life, I hope they spontaneously combust. But the groove is infectious, the hook is amazing. Plus it’s something I yell all the time: “That’s why we can’t have nice things!!” Seriously though, when you hear it, you’ll know what I mean. The latest single “Call It What You Want” is 100% one of the most beautiful songs Taylor has ever written. Tell me you don’t feel something after this one, and I’ll tell you what a liar you are. She always knows how to hit the right chord, musically and emotionally.
Closing this musical tapestry is “New Year’s Day” an acoustic number that tells the tale of a couple cleaning up the morning after the party. She is telling him how much she wants to be there through everything; the highs, the parties, and the day after. It is gorgeous, it is lush, and it is so different from the rest of the album that it’s the perfect way to end things. Once again TAYLOR SWIFT has managed to make a brilliant statement, while not only opening herself up, but also extending a huge middle finger towards the naysayers. They are the ones who strive to tear an amazing singer and songwriter down, and they’re the ones who will still be irrelevant long after Reputation has sold millions.
In the meantime me, my fellow fangirls Anne and fashionista Miss Kate (the BEST critics ever!) will just dance the night away and enjoy listening to our girl over and over again. This new album is worth the wait and then some. You should go and buy Reputation with a quickness, all of you.TAYLOR SWIFT is one of the Great American Songwriters of our time, so you had all just better deal with it.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM