Swift response is hit and miss
REPUTATION TAYLOR SWIFT (UNIVERSAL)
Global pop superstars have an imperial phase. Anything they release sells in wild quantities. Ed Sheeran’s in his imperial phase. So is Taylor Swift.
That momentum means it’s going to break records but
Reputation is no 1989. Even 1989’s seventh single, New Romantics, was better than
Reputation’s first. The album is no disaster and does everything it needs to, but does feel like going through the motions at times.
Part of this is due to Swift collaborating with modern pop hitmakers Max Martin and Shellback. They’re not having their best year — see Katy Perry and Pink‘s albums.
Ironically Martin’s most 1989 moment, the synth euphoria of
Dancing With My Hands Tied is Reputation’s peak.
See also Getaway Car — written with Jack Antonoff, no stranger to retro-synth-pop. He’s also on the breathy electro of Dress, some of Swift’s most blatantly bedroom-bound lyrics
Don’t Blame Me and its big chorus is a future hit — think Rag & Bone Man gone EDM — while Delicate is all vocoder and wanderlust.
End Game has an unexpected soul feel over hip-hop beats, but with Future rapping maybe Swift and Ed Sheeran should have just sung.
The tender acoustic closer New Year’s
Day is a flashback to Swift’s simpler country days, before the celebrity dudes and celebrity feuds.
Swift now lets everyone else analyse her lyrics, but there’s enough strategic (yet deliberately still vague) clues littered here to make Hansel and Gretel look subtle.
Maybe it’s because Swift has always been so stealthy with her fearless creativity that some of Reputation disappoints. The old Taylor may be dead, but she was a little more fun.
VERDICT Still much better than Witness