Taylor Swift’s most sonically cohesive, confidently bold, and unapologetically honest album, Reputation, is already the biggest hit of 2017, with over 1.28 million copies sold in the first week. Its title alludes quite obviously to the whirlwind of drama that has been Swift’s reputation in the public eye for the past few years. Her complicated public image includes feuds with Kim and Kanye West and Katy Perry, a long but unfortunately-ending relationship with Calvin Harris, and a supposed “rebound” relationship with Tom Hiddleston (which she addresses on her song “Dress”- “Flash back to my mistakes/My rebounds, my earthquakes”). It seemed that nothing the mega pop star did was good enough for the approval of the public. And yes, that kind of criticism comes naturally with being in the public eye, but every one of Swift’s actions were blown hugely out of proportion and dissected. So Swift took a year to herself out of the public eye, spent time with her new boyfriend Joe Alwyn, and wrote Reputation. The result? An album that is so unmistakably Taylor Swift, but so refreshingly different from her past self.
Swift dips her toes into new genres on the album, mixing pop sounds with dubstep and electronic influences, bringing out a whole new side of her voice. She comes back on this album three years after the release of 1989 sounding more mature, powerful, and confident. Her voice reflects the overall tone of the album- no more bubblegum pop songs for Swift. The result of her new sonically cohesive heavy pop sound is an album that sounds incredibly well put together, but also as if each song is strung together, making it difficult for some songs to stand out as memorable. Some standouts on the album, however, include her catchy feature with Ed Sheeran and Future entitled “End Game,” her dark and aggressively cool “I Did Something Bad,” which calls for blasting in the car, “Don’t Blame Me,” which dapples in dubstep sounds while incorporating beautifully Swiftian lyricism, the highly praised ballad “Call It What You Want,” and the tender piano song “New Year’s Day,” which finishes the album on a note quite separate from each of the other songs. While some songs talk of Swift’s reputation, others praise her new love Joe Alwyn. “King of My Heart,” for example, celebrates him, singing, “And all at once, you are the one I have been waiting for.” So while the album is an ode to the complicated story that is her reputation, Swift also introduces a joyful and exuberant tone to the album that screams she’s in love.
If there’s one thing to learn from Reputation, it’s that Swift pushes herself to create something different with each album- and does so quite successfully based on album sales. Her new sound may draw mixed reviews, but it is an undeniable fact that Taylor Swift is a masterful lyricist that can write triumphantly for any genre.