The former princess of country music has been on a journey to relinquishing her title for about an album and a half now. With the release of her fifth album, decease 1989, see she finally shakes out those last Nashville curls and moves into the pop world.
The first single from the album, ‘Shake It Off’, gives a taste of what we are going to hear from the rest of the album. Taylor has dropped all the guitars and banjos and replaced it with electronic and infectious pure pop production. The lyrics are still as kitsch and girlish as her previous work, but she gives us the impression that the album is not going to be completely based on the “he said, she said”s of her broken relationships. ‘Shake It Off’ shows Taylor is well aware of what everyone says about her, and has the sense of humour to poke fun at herself. Admittedly, my first impression was that it’s the kind of song that could have been any generic female pop artist, but that’s a theme often found in pop music, and on further listen, her lyrics still shine through.
No one wants to say they love pop music, but I’ve always been on Taylor’s side, and for the rest of the album I was prepared to put myself into the cheesiest of pop mindsets to try and enjoy it for what it was worth and give a decent review.
The first half of the album explores the new Taylor Swift, all stomping electronic drums at the heart of high production feel-good songs. All of the current pop artists are there in spirit; ‘Out Of The Woods’ could be Ellie Goulding, ‘New Romantics’ and ‘Welcome to New York’ have Robyn’s 80s style synth sound (and I’ll be shocked if neither appear on the soundtrack of HBO’s Girls). ‘Blank Space’ could be Lorde, ‘Wildest Dreams’ has a Lana Del Ray-esque woozy decadence. Some, especially those in the second half of the album, are still classic Taylor Swift, in that they are centred on romance. Swift seems to have developed a more sceptical view, an awareness that relationships end (“I’m dying to see how this one ends “) and less of a focus on blaming her ex-other half (“Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane.”). She transforms into something of a guru (‘You Are In Love’), the selfish tone gone from her lyrics. She sings tongue-in-cheek lyrics, well aware that potential suitors fear her malicious song writing (“I’ve got a blank space, baby, and I’ll write your name”) and most importantly, she has fun. It’s contagious and it’s wonderful; I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of Taylor Swift converts after this.
Written by Kate Duffy