[ALBUM REVIEW] “Reputation” restores faith in Swift’s talent

Taylor Swifts most recent album, Reputation, was released on Nov. 10

Big Machine Records

Taylor Swift’s most recent album, “Reputation,” was released on Nov. 10

With a combination of tempos, moods, and instrumentals, Taylor Swift certainly took a new direction with her latest album “Reputation,” released on Nov. 10. This pop album perhaps marks the full evolution of Swift as an artist from her early, innocent country days in her 2006 self-titled “Taylor Swift.” Since that debut, her music, song content, and public image have progressively gotten edgier, culminating in this sixth release. Swift affirms this sentiment, declaring boldly in “Look What You Made Me Do” that “the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because she’s dead.”

“Look What You Made Me Do” was one of three singles released before the album’s drop–the other two were“Ready for It,” the first track of the album, and “Gorgeous”–and sparked significant criticism and praise. Fans and critics alike speculate that the song is about Swift’s rocky relationships with Kanye West, ex-fiancee Calvin Harris and other celebrities; some people also viewed the accompanying music video as taking stabs at the Kardashians, Katy Perry, and the numerous other critics who have accused her of being fake and shallow. Fortunately, for fans worried that she would not be the same after her years of drama in the public eye, “Reputation” restores the listener’s faith in Swift.  

The 15 song album features just over 55 minutes of catchy lyrics, rhythms and surprising twists.

Swift’s collaboration with rapper Future and singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran in the second song of the album, “End Game,” possibly shows the biggest transition from her older style as she embraces elements of hip-hop in this high-energy beat.

The majority of the songs follow a similar pattern of a slower, softer beginning that builds to a high tempo and more engaged chorus or refrain; however, these songs feel anything but formulaic due to her sassy lyrics and interesting key changes. Songs like “…Ready for It?” and “Dancing with Our Hands” were designed for full-volume jam sessions in the car.

Songs like ‘…Ready for It?’ were designed for full-volume jam sessions in the car

Swift contrasts these energetic tracks with more subtle and reflective songs like “Delicate” (she sings, “is it cool I said all that? Is it chill that you’re in my head? Cause I know that it’s delicate, delicate” in an honest and relatable fashion) and “Don’t Blame Me,” which almost gives off a hymnal vibe in the beginning until its incorporation of the electric keyboard. The most recently released single before the album, “Gorgeous,” involves a catchy and simple refrain, adding a more upbeat and positive “pop”-feel to the middle of the album before the tempo picks back up again with the defiantly written “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”

The only disappointing part of the album is that ends with much lower energy than it began: the last two songs are more melodramatic and slow. The final song, “New Year’s Day” is beautiful and earnest, but its low energy and romanticized message seems like it would fit better in the middle, and the album could come full circle with a more fast-paced song to conclude. Then again, “New Year’s Day” seems the closest relative of Swift’s older works, and she perhaps wanted to show that she although she has forged a new identity, she retains some of her older characteristics, but in a more mature and grown-up way.

Overall, “Reputation” is a thoughtfully crafted and engaging album through which Swift asserts independence and officially cuts ties with her previous public character as the “good country girl” and shows that no one can define her reputation except her. Its reliance on electronics and echoing vocals is a far cry from her older, acoustic and innocent works; with references to alcohol, sex, and complicated relationships, her songs reflect her maturity and growth. The album sets a new standard for Swift, and showcases her new identity as she sheds her past reputation.

“Reputation” is available for purchase on iTunes and in hard copy.



4 out of 5 stars