HomeEntertainmentTaylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ proves expectation-exceeding and soul-shattering

Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ proves expectation-exceeding and soul-shattering

Published May 8, 2024

BY AVERY PALSHAW

After releasing 10 wildly successful original studio albums and re-recording four of them, sensational American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has done it again with her 11th studio album “The Tortured Poets Department.” 

Swift released the 16-track album at midnight April 19, then just two hours later revealed that the album was truly a double-album entitled “The Tortured Poets Department: Anthology,” with an additional 15 tracks. It’s difficult for such a massive album to be exceptional, while also remaining cohesive, yet this 31-track double album’s “duds” are few and far between.

Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department.” (courtesy of REPUBLIC RECORDS)

“The Tortured Poets Department” is undoubtedly Swift’s most personal album, which allows listeners to understand her struggles as a repeatedly torn-down woman in the music industry as well as her struggles as a normal human being, merely trying to navigate heartbreak. Swift also does a seamless job in creating a cohesive album, as the first, original half of “The Tortured Poets Department” is mainly driven by synthesizers and drums, yet with a melancholy tone, whereas the “Anthology” portion of the double-album features slower songs on piano and guitar, while still carrying the same tone. 

In being nit-picky, a sole critique is that this album seems unintentionally catered towards longtime “Swifties” in the sense that Swift’s lyrics are so specific to her personal life that a newer listener or fan may become confused by what a given song is trying to convey. 

Like any Taylor Swift album, certain tracks are simply too brilliant and unforgettable to be ignored. The opening track, “Fortnight,” features an unexpected duo of Swift and Post Malone and is lyrically and conceptually extremely unique, especially in its catchy outro. “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” remarkably encapsulates the beauty of “female rage,” featuring Swift’s haunting cries along with a bridge so strong, it puts London’s to shame. The pop star alludes to the “circus life” of the music industry and how it leaves one vulnerable to hate from cynics. 

Meanwhile, “The Albatross” is a beautiful folk-sounding track and is noticeably higher pitched than the other songs on “The Tortured Poets Department” and even sounds vaguely similar to Swift’s ninth studio album “evermore.” “Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus,” may have an overly wordy title, but the utter heartbreak of this song compensates for it. This is the type of song that causes an aching feeling throughout one’s bones, where each word feels like a stab to the heart. 

All things considered, “The Tortured Poets Department” is a lyrical masterpiece that has the ability to make even the coldest of souls feel emotional. The album eloquently touches on themes of struggling to cope with a broken relationship, feeling constantly attacked by society and not knowing who to trust, making it arguably Swift’s best collective work up to this point.

9/10

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