BY KYLIE YEATMAN
Approximately one year after the highly publicized reveal by reality star Kim Kardashian-West that Taylor Swift had lied about her knowledge of a controversial lyric written by Kardashian’s husband Kanye, Taylor Swift has encapsulated her newfound image of a controversial figure in the music world on her latest release, “Reputation.”
Embracing all criticisms launched at her over the last 12 months, Swift mixes her intrinsic lyrics about love with criticism of the media that translates well into intense beats that mark a departure from Swift’s old works and help represent her new jaded image. The album opened with one and a half million copies sold, a career-high for Swift and the highest debut for an album since Adele’s “25,” and the second-highest in history for a female artist.
The album is comprised of 15 tracks, all self-written by Swift and produced by flagship producers Max Martin and Shellback, with additional production by long-time collaborator Jack Antonoff.
The Antonoff-produced tracks generally stick out more than the others, including some of her best-ever tracks and fan-favorites, “Getaway Car” and “New Year’s Day.”
Swift’s typical lyrical excellence shines through on “I Did Something Bad,” along with a self-confession that her newly-tarnished reputation is “the most fun I’ve ever had.” The chorus arrives in a fiery explosion of gunshots, chants and sharp production. Swift incorporates the imagery of a witch hunt into the lyrics with the phrase “they’re burning all the witches even if you aren’t one.” and eventually relates the lyric back to her, with the climax of the song being her singing “so, light me up.”
The album continues on with “Don’t Blame Me,” including a stomping, Hozier-inspired chorus, along with a strong baseline and explosive sound. Even in the acapella segment in the final chorus, Swift’s layered vocals stick out. The vocal layering continues on “Delicate,” which opens with an Imogen Heap-like use of a vocoder to create a unique sound that prevails throughout the track.
The second half of the album proves equally as strong as the first, with its most notable track being “Getaway Car,” a track with a chorus that calls back to previous works by Swift, while also invoking great aspects of tracks from artists like Lorde and Lana Del Rey, two artists Swift has praised. The song is notably the only single track on the album to focus on a breakup, with Swift delivering narrative-style lyrics in which the “getaway car” serves as a metaphor for leaving one’s lover, in this particular case for another man.
Swift writes about her three-way feud with the Kardashian-West clan on “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” a comedically written track that emphasizes Swift’s view of her feud with the Kardashian-West family as childish.
The album wraps up with “New Year’s Day,” a much-needed, subdued piano track which shows that Swift, who spent the last 14 tracks spiting her enemies, praising her new lover or both, still has facets of her old self intact and that, despite what some lyrics may imply, the old Taylor is not dead.