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The queen has risen: A review of Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

By: Liann Keren

The queen has risen. 

Taylor Swift dropped her eleventh studio album titled The Tortured Poets Department (TTPD) on Apr. 19 at midnight. Then she added fifteen more songs just two hours later, rendering TTPD Swift’s first double album.

Dubbed “an anthology of new works that reflect events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time” in an Instagram post by Swift, the album is stacked with 31 tracks. 

I’d like to point out that 31 is 13 backward – just Swift alluding to her lucky number yet again. 

The album houses two feature tracks, one with Post Malone (“Fortnight”) and one with Florence and the Machine (“Florida!!!”). The former is rumored to be about Swift’s former boyfriend of six years, Joe Alwyn, who she seems to accuse of cheating in the song, stating, “My husband is cheating/I wanna kill him.”

The latter describes the state of Florida as an escape from the rest of the world, rumored to be following her break-up with Joe Alwyn.

The latter also features a lyric indicative of fidelity, where Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine sings “Your cheating husband disappeared.” This could be a reference to the sixth track on Swift’s ninth studio album evermore, “no body, no crime,” which tells the story of a woman who goes missing, the narrator suspecting her husband “did it”; the narrator avenges her friend by killing the husband. 

The entire album is synth-pop, which is usually the case when Swift brings on producer Jack Antonoff – he has produced iconic songs from 1989, reputation, Lover, and Midnights alongside Swift, such as “Getaway Car” and “Cruel Summer.” Besides Antonoff, Aaron Dessner of The National is also credited on parts of the album. Dessner had previously collaborated with Swift, most notably on evermore

Dessner is credited as a writer on “So Long, London,” track five on TTPD. Track five is notorious for being the saddest song on each Swift album. “So Long, London” definitely upholds that reputation. It seems to be one of Swift’s most direct references to Alwyn, who is British and possibly works in conversation with “London Boy” from Lover. She describes the death of her relationship, and how she has officially closed the book with Alwyn. 

Another song that has fans talking is “thanK you aIMee.” Putting the capitalized letters together spells out “KIM,” an obvious reference to Swift’s feud with Kim Kardashian. In the 24th track of TTPD: The Anthology, Swift thanks Kardashian for the “scars” she inflicted on Swift because it made her the strong, successful woman she is today. Without this feud, we wouldn’t have gotten reputation, Swift’s sixth album, which broke countless streaming and touring records. 

One of my personal favorites is “Peter,” a Dessner track – not shocking considering two of my other favorites are “ivy” and “evermore,” two tracks also produced by Dessner. Everything he touches to gold. “Peter” is flooded with “Peter-Pan” references, and Swift seems to be begging someone from her past for forgiveness. It’s a gorgeous song – soft, relaxing, and hits the smallest corners of my brain in the most pleasant way. 

Another one I love is “Down Bad.” It’s a more upbeat track about the confusion after being love-bombed, which I think is something many, many of us can relate to. It has iconic lines, such as, “I’m down bad, crying at the gym.”

My one critique of the album is that it’s considerably long, so some of the songs tend to blend together. They really have to sound different from everything else to be memorable in the first few listens.

However, I know that as I continue listening to the album and realize what the lyrics are actually saying, I will come to appreciate it so much more. After all, I didn’t realize evermore was my favorite album until a week ago. And it came out in 2020. 

Go listen to The Tortured Poets Department