Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department: A Review 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at West Chester chapter.

I thought The Tortured Poets Department was likely going to become my favorite Taylor Swift album as I listened in awe exactly at Midnight on April 19th. I started to write down all of my initial thoughts and favorite songs (“My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys,” “Down Bad,” “Florida!!!,” and “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,” at least upon first listen). It was an emotional rollercoaster with spectacular vocals and insane background production. I didn’t think it could get better, but all of a sudden, it did. At 2 AM, Taylor surprised her fanbase with a double album release – the deluxe version of TTPD, The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology, which included 15 new songs. I was in shock. The additional 15 songs make the album extremely well-rounded. I discovered some new favorite songs (“The Black Dog,” “So High School,” and “I Hate It Here”). After I processed the shock of having to listen to 31 new songs instead of just the original 16, I was able to finally sort out my opinions on the album.

This is perhaps Swift’s most masterful album so far, spiraling through the spectrum of human emotion with ease. Swift holds nothing back – raw anger, heartbreak, sadness, excitement, and new love are all present over the course of a whopping 31 songs. With production from both Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, both fans of Midnights and the Folklore/Evermore duology will find elements that they enjoy in The Tortured Poets Department. It sounds like those two eras met up and had a baby that had just gone through a heart-wrenching breakup, controversial situationship, and has entered a new long-term relationship. 

Finally, we get bits and pieces of details of what happened during the infamous breakup of Taylor Swift and Joe Alywn. It’s emotional, brutally honest, and honestly hard to hear if you really love Ms. Swift or attended The Eras Tour (it’s hard to know we were a part of the crowd “chanting ‘More!’” in “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”). There are also references to her short-lived, whirlwind romance with The 1975 frontman Matty Healy. Many people are arguing online about which songs are about Joe, and which are about Matty. Either way, the songs eat. And, they’re unfortunately relatable to most of us Swifties. 

One of my favorite songs on the extended album, though, is “So High School,” which is clearly a tribute to her new beau, Travis Kelce. Taylor broke the internet after going public with Kelce in 2023. Their relationship has truly been the talk of the town, and while many were expecting TTPD to be a full blown breakup album, I loved getting to hear something that promised she is doing well now. “So High School” is the silly pick-me-up about Travis that we needed to hear after going through the ups and downs of Taylor’s breakup for a two hour long album. Another one of my extra favorites was “I Hate It Here,” because it felt like she wrote it for my bookworm, English major self who wishes the worlds she reads about and the characters she’s grown attached to were real. My imagination is sometimes just easier to exist in than the real world. Just like Taylor says, “I’m there most of the year ‘cause I hate it here.” I know a Taylor Swift album release will never disappoint me, but I was especially impressed with this one. I’ve been listening on repeat and now I’m down bad crying at the gym because of The Tortured Poets Department.

Maddy Kern

West Chester '27

Hi! I'm Maddy and I'm an English major at West Chester University. I'm interested in lifestyle and wellness as well as pop culture. I love writing, animals (my favorite is a sloth), and going to the beach. My favorite thing to do is snuggle up with a cup of coffee and a good book!