Tay­lor Swift’s ‘ Rep­u­ta­tion’ made from the heart

Her long- an­tic­i­pated sixth al­bum is largely a look at an artist in love.

Chicago Sun-Times - - USA TODAY 11.10.17 - Maeve McDer­mott Colum­nist USA TO­DAY

Don’t let the al­bum ti­tle fool you — Tay­lor Swift doesn’t give a damn about her bad rep­u­ta­tion.

Swift’s long- an­tic­i­pated sixth al­bum, Rep­u­ta­tion ( ★★★), chron­i­cles the most tur­bu­lent year and a half of the singer’s life, con­sist­ing of squads, suit­ors and one per­sonal drama — her spat with Kanye West and Kim Kar­dashian — that re­sulted in Swift all- but- dis­ap­pear­ing from pub­lic life.

But, as she inches back into the spot­light, her 15song chronicle of her year of reck­on­ing doesn’t pro­ceed any­thing like fans were led to be­lieve from the al­bum’s lead sin­gle, Look What You Made Me Do.

In­stead, Rep­u­ta­tion is largely a look at an artist in love, and not the kind of flash- in- the- pan ro­mance or tragic heart­break that pop­u­lated pre­vi­ous re­leases. For the first time, Swift has writ­ten an al­bum about a suc­cess­ful re­la­tion­ship while she’s still in it, fi­nally shar­ing the story of the new re­la­tion­ship that she’s kept away from the cam­eras.

The man in ques­tion al­most cer­tainly is Bri­tish ac­tor Joe Al­wyn, whose blue eyes are a re­cur­ring mo­tif. The al­bum fol­lows a some­what- lin­ear nar­ra­tive, start­ing with ... Ready For It’s taunt­ing se­duc­tion and End

Game’s starry- eyed day­dream­ing, with the lat­ter show­ing Swift trad­ing chant- singing verses with Fu­ture and Ed Sheeran.

She falls deeper in love, com­ing clean with her feel­ings on the stand­out Del­i­cate, then strug­gles through a rough patch, flirt­ing with her fears of aban­don­ment on Danc

ing With Our Hands Tied and her un­con­trol­lable lust on Dress. Swift turns 28 next month, and Rep­u­ta­tion sees her fully em­brac­ing a more adult­sound­ing sex­u­al­ity.

And at the end of the al­bum, she’s fine again, with Call It What You

Want glimps­ing at her well- ad­justed new re­al­ity and newly val­ued pri­vacy. The fi­nal track, New Year’s Day, pro­vides a tear­jerker of an epi­logue and the most Swif­tian re­frain: “Hold on to the mem­o­ries / They will hold onto you / And I will hold onto you.” Aside from the sim­ple pi­ano on

New Year’s Day, the al­bum is all skit­ter­ing beats and boom­ing bass

cho­ruses and vocoder- style har­monies, a son­i­cally uni­fied sheen of icy pop. Yet, while Rep­u­ta­tion tight­ens up 1989’ s pop ex­per­i­ments into a more de­fined sound, the slower stretches may leave some fans nos­tal­gic for her pre­vi­ous al­bum’s more play­ful pop stylings or the twangy gui­tars of her ear­lier re­leases.

But Swift’s flair for sto­ry­telling shines through on the most en­gag­ing songs, such as the de­light­fully dishy

Get­away Car, which tells the story of her tabloid drama with Tom Hid­dle­ston by por­tray­ing him as her hap­less driver. Equally thrilling is This Is Why

We Can’t Have Nice Things, which wink­ingly memo­ri­al­izes the days she spent par­ty­ing with her squad and, more point­edly, her for­mer friend­ship with Kanye West. “And here’s to you, ’ cause for­give­ness is a nice thing to do,” she sings to West, be­fore break­ing out in laugh­ter, ex­claim­ing, “I can’t even say it with a straight face!”

Yet, there’s a key dif­fer­ence be­tween Swift clown­ing West on Nice

Things and her mes­sag­ing on Look, which saw the singer re­gress­ing to the “play­ing the vic­tim” role she’s been crit­i­cized for through­out her ca­reer. Over the course of Rep­u­ta­tion, Swift takes own­er­ship of her nar­ra­tive. She’s the preda­tor, the per­son hold­ing all the con­trol, the gate­keeper to her heart, flip­ping the script of one of her songs from herRed era, I Knew You Were Trou­ble.

This time, Swift is the trou­ble­maker, and over the course of the al­bum, finds some­one who can han­dle her new­found power. And that pri­vate rep­u­ta­tion, she proves, is more im­por­tant to her than all the head­lines in the world.

Tay­lor Swift is back with a new “Rep­u­ta­tion,” out Fri­day. USA TO­DAY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.