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CultureCow: Swifties Unite! Taylor is back with her new album and she’s in love

by Devin McCue, Sumner Newscow — Happy Friday. Welcome to week 2 of Taylor Swift’s newest album Lover and judging how much the hype has died down, I think it’s safe to say this album doesn’t carry the same weight her previous work has.  Back in 2017, when Taylor went into her dark(?) phase and came out with Reputation, it was all anyone could talk about for weeks.  This time around, however, it seems everyone is content to let Lover go the way of the Fearless album.

You may also remember how I went a little off the rails on Reputation by doing a deep dive into each and every song, and while I haven’t learned from that mistake this time, I promise at least a little more brevity, so let’s get started:

I Forgot That You Existed

Great way to start off the album.  It’s fun, it has some really catchy lyrics, and it sounds like vintage Swift.  One of my biggest takeaways from this album is that after Reputation, Taylor was at a crossroads of changing as an artist and aging with her fanbase or playing back to the younger Billie Eilish generation she left behind; she clearly chose the latter.  While that’s a good career move for her and we’ll still be able to enjoy her music, I was in the camp really looking forward to the next chapter of her style.

Cruel Summer

This is the first (and by no means the last) instance where it sounded like a song had no clear place in the album and it was one of the weaker songs so Taylor and her collaborators (Jack Antonoff is back baby) stuck it in between two of the stronger songs on the album.  Cruel Summer sounds like it wasn’t good enough to make it onto the 1989 album, but didn’t fit the theme of Reputation so they just held onto it until now.  All that said, the younger crowd really likes it, and it’ll probably be a single.

Lover

The titular track was the best single she released before the album and is the first example of something Taylor did a few times this album that I really liked: she brought back her acoustic roots we haven’t heard since the Speak Now album.  It sounds almost country and introduces the prevailing theme of this album that she’s in love with *checks notes* some British guy named Joe Alwyn.  The combination of a return to her old style while introducing a new non-breakup style of songwriting was a cool juxtaposition in Lover.

The Man

This song annoyed me.  It sounds fine and is actually a fun listen, but the notoriously apolitical Taylor decided to break that streak with The Man.  I *all caps* love that she’s trying to take a stronger stance on issues like women’s and gay rights, but this song sounded so childish that it diminished the message she was trying to get across.  We’ve always praised Swifty for her clever songwriting and how she can weave a metaphor, but this song literally just says how much harder it is that she’s a woman, and while that’s absolutely true, it was devoid of a shred of nuance.  Once again, to be clear, I love the stance she’s taking, but the way she did it seems almost lazy.

The Archer

The fifth song on a Swift album is a legendary spot to hold with such contemporaries as Delicate, All You Had to Do Was Stay, and All Too Well, but the Archer was one of the more lacking additions.  It was a fine song, but not one of the best, even on this project.

I Think He Knows

My absolute favorite on the album.  I Think He Knows is a wonderful addition, both in style and theme, for the album and is a certified bop.  You can’t help but dance to it and it will dominate the airwaves soon enough so strap in.

Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince

See the description for Cruel Summer above.


Paper Rings

Another jam.  Paper Rings is a fun little ode to her new man’s and to be clear: she sounds as sincere in her love for this Joe fella as she ever did slamming her exes.  With songs like this, I do truly believe how much she’s in love and I’m honestly happy for her.  Paper Rings is fun and super peppy and while it’s still a return to old Swifty, it’s no longer just clowning the boys she left behind.

Cornelia Street

There’s 2 main points I want to make about this song.  1: It’s one of the best written songs on the album and conjures a very real feeling of regret and mourning for a relationship that has yet to end.  When you’re in love like she is, the possibility of it ending (and it’s still Taylor Swift so that’s a real possibility) makes one preemptively want to avoid even the thought of walking down a street you are currently making memories on.  2: It makes zero sense being where it is on the album.  It’s a huge downer and comes right after one of the peppiest songs on the tracklist.  One of my biggest critiques of this album is how confused it seems to be about the tone it’s trying to strike and this only proves that point.

Death By A Thousand Cuts

Eh.

London Boy

Clearly a call out to Estelle’s American Boy, but that’s not a comparison any artist should invite.  It makes a lot of fun shout/outs to London slang and is generally a really fun song.  The chorus is one of my favorite parts of the entire project and the mere mention of rugby is enough to earn my love.  If you ask most people one song that stands out as a potential hit, this is always high on the list.

Soon You’ll Get Better (feat. Dixie Chicks)

This song should’ve followed Cornelia Street.  It is the absolute saddest song Taylor’s ever written because it’s an ode to the hope she still feigns that her mom will recover from cancer.  Including the Dixie Chicks and playing almost exclusively acoustic guitar calls back to her original style when it was only her mom and Taylor on the road together.  One of my favorite songs on the album that won’t get a lot of radio play.

False God

The Dress of this album in that is doesn’t make a lot of sense thematically or in tone, but sounds great and I’m so glad she included it.

You Need To Calm Down

Taylor said gay rights.

Afterglow

I couldn’t pick this song out a line up if you held a gun to my head, it’s so bland.

ME! (feat. Brandon Urie)

This may be the worst song she’s ever put out.  The only positive thing I can say about this song is that she took out the “hey kids, spelling is fun” line.

It’s Nice To Have A Friend

Another great acoustic faux-country jam.  It’s stripped down and gives you all the warm fuzzies because she’s singing about not only how much she loves the British man, but how nice it is that he’s her friend as much as her lover (title drop, nailed it).

Daylight

Could’ve left this song off and it would’ve drastically improved the album.  Not because it’s bad, but because it’s a little boring, I can’t see where else you would put it, and ending the album on the previous song would’ve sounded like a nice book-end track to the opener.

So I still went a little long, but Taylor Swift is a generation-defining artist and whether we like it or not, her music will have a rippling effect on the rest of the industry.  This album had a lot of flaws, namely it didn’t have a clear focus of what it was trying to be and was plagued by four or five songs that had no business being there. That being said, I am still a fan and I’m happy she’s advancing at least in her life if not her overall style (it’s okay Tay Tay, we all miss the 1989 album).  It may have dropped off near the end, but there is some of her best work scattered throughout the over 60 minutes of Swiftness.

Lover is probably her fourth best album she’s put out, but it’s still a good listen and her songwriting is probably more developed than ever before so let’s just be happy that she’s finally happy.

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