Review of Taylor Swift’s Latest Album, ‘Lover’

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On her latest album cover, Taylor Swift tilts her head downward in front of a cotton candy swirled sky—a sparkly pink heart frames her right eye, and her lips are painted cherry red in classic Swift fashion. The aesthetic of the entire ‘Lover’ album could not be farther from the dark newsprint motifs that permeated her last album, ‘reputation.’  ‘Lover’ seems to represent Swift’s reawakening from a difficult time in her life—remember the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty of 2016? While many of her lyrics echo the happiness of ‘1989,’ the Taylor Swift we hear on ‘Lover’ is much more mature. This version of Swift is not only in love, but she’s “doing better than [she] ever was.”

The album doesn’t really begin right where Swift left off (think “New Years Day”) but goes back to an earlier time in “I Forgot That You Existed.” Swift quips on the track, “I forgot that you / got out some popcorn as soon as my rep started going down down down…”

Fans speculate that the subject of the song is Swift’s ex Calvin Harris, who she dated for 15 months until they broke up in 2016. The breakup initiated a very public Twitter feud, in which Harris slammed Swift for admitting that she wrote the lyrics on Harris’s hit song, “This Is What You Came For.” One of Harris’s since deleted tweets read, “I  know you’re off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I’m not that guy, sorry. I won’t allow it.”

Todrick Hall and Swift on the set of the “You Need To Calm Down” music video. Photo from Billboard.

On ‘Lover,’ we see a newer side of Swift—one where she takes an activist stance. Historically, Swift has not revealed her political views, most likely to avoid alienating some of her fanbase (she rose to fame in 2006 as a country singer). The first time Swift officially endorsed a candidate was on October 7, 2018, when she posted a photo in support of Democrat Phil Bresden for Senate and Democrat Jim Cooper for House of Representatives.

Although she has dropped subtle hints in the past, such as the line “And you can want who you want / boys and boys and girls and girls” on the ‘1989’ opener “Welcome To New York,” her single “You Need To Calm Down” and its accompanying petition for The Equality Act is also the first time Swift has paraded for LGBTQ rights. In another song on the album, Swift explores how her reputation would change if she were a man. Fittingly, the track is titled, “The Man.”

Apart from one song about her mother, Andrea Swift, the rest of Swift’s ‘Lover’ reads as a diary about British actor Joe Alwyn, her current boyfriend of three years. Historically, the pair has kept their relationship extremely private (the two are rarely seen together in public), but we can learn a lot about Swift’s love affair through her lyrics. The album covers everything from the highs of being in love on tracks “London Boy” and “Paper Rings,” to the lows on “Cornelia Street” and “Afterglow,” to the in-betweens on “False God” and “Death By A Thousand Cuts.”

Swift with boyfriend Joe Alwyn. Photo from Morning Picker.

‘Lover’ has also prompted fans to hypothesize that Swift and Alwyn are already engaged, or will be in the near future (2020, perhaps?). On “Lover,” Swift sings, “My heart’s been borrowed and yours has been blue / all’s well that ends well to end up with you.” Then, the line, “I think he knows / He better lock it down / ‘Cause I won’t stick around” on “I Think He Knows.” And, most obviously,” “I like shiny things / But I’d marry you with paper rings” (“Paper Rings”). Honestly, I’d be very surprised if Alwyn hasn’t gotten the message by now.

Rye students had a lot to say about ‘Lover.’ Senior Grace Macdonald said, “‘Lover’ has definitely knocked off ‘1989’ as my favorite Taylor Swift album. The lyrics and bridges represent a new maturity in her music, and there’s a perfect blend of catchy pop songs and slow love songs.” Sophomore Juliet Smith added, “On my first listen only a few songs were interesting, but after a second listen I liked most of the songs on the album.”

Is ‘Lover’ Taylor Swift’s best album? I’m not sure. It’s much more straightforward than ‘1989’ or ‘reputation,’ and the varying quality of songwriting reminisces of ‘Red.’ However, one thing I’m sure of is that I can’t stop listening right now, and I’m excited for all the surprises “Lover Fest” will bring.

Photo from Los Angeles Times.