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The Tortured Poets Department Review

The announcement of The Tortured Poets Department (TTPD), Taylor Swift’s newest album, was a shock to all at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards. Many swifties were expecting the announcement of Reputation (Taylor’s Version), which would be the billionaire’s 5th album re-released to gain ownership rights. A brand new album was hardly even contemplated during the bustle of Taylor’s Version releases, and came as a huge surprise for her fans. Taylor has reportedly been working on this album since her last album drop, Midnights. 

At 2 a.m. on April 19th, just 2 hours after TTPD was released, Taylor surprised her fans again. She announced the album as a double album, The Tortured Poets Department Anthology, including 31 songs (favorite number 13 backwards…). According to Swift herself, the double album is “an anthology of new works that reflect events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time – one that was both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure…This writer is of the firm belief that our tears become holy in the form of ink on a page”.

The inspiration for this album is widespread, with different songs pointing to different relationships. Her British boyfriend (now ex) of 6 years, Joe Alwyn, is undeniably the inspiration for the majority of the songs, mostly about the end of their relationship and the pain that came with it. Other songs, such as “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” point to Matt Healy, a summer rebound, with the lyrics, “And I don’t even want you back, I just want to know if rusting my sparkling summer was the goal?”. A couple of the happier songs indicate current boyfriend Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end. “The Alchemy” is one of the clearer connections, with the football inspired words, “So when I touch down, call the amateurs and cut ’em from the team” and the Super Bowl lyrics, “The greatest in the league. Where’s the trophy? He just comes running over to me”.

The double album as a whole  may be described as melancholy. However, it has greater depth and blunt truth than most of her other works, and it has been accepted happily by her fans, me being one of them. My top five on the album are:

1. So Long London 

The song “London Boy” from the Lover album created London as a symbol for her British boyfriend Joe Alwyn. She sang in 2019, “So I guess all the rumors are true. You know I love a London boy”. This was toward the start of their relationship, and the new release, “So Long London” shows the end. The lyrics of this song show the death of something that was once beautiful. Taylor sings, “You swore that you loved me but where were the clues? I died on the altar waiting for the proof…. I’m just mad as hell ‘cause I loved this place for so long, London”. The contrast between the different states of this relationship is powerful and moving.

2. imgonnagetyouback

This song is very clever; Taylor promises that she will either get back together with the song’s subject, or get revenge on him. Either way, she’s going to get him back. This song has a fun beat, and is an easy one to sing along to. “Even if it’s handcuffed, I’m leaving here with you”.

3. Fortnight (ft. Post Malone)

Fortnight is the first single of the album, and features Posty! This song is described as an overview of the whole album, and it has been well received. The music video is similarly eclectic, featuring Taylor herself, Post Malone, and various members of the “Dead Poets Society” movie cast. This song is one of the easiest to get into, with a good beat Malone’s feature.

4. I Can Do it With a Broken Heart

This song is so catchy; a classic Taylor Swift creation. It’s very upbeat, and discusses her ability to succeed while being brokenhearted, saying, “You know you’re good when you can even do it with a broken heart…’Cause I’m miserable and no one even knows!”

5. I Can Fix Him (No Really, I can)

This track’s interesting title had drawn me to it since before its release, and the song itself surpassed my expectations. It has an eerie beat of sorts, and reflects on a relationship (many suspect her relationship with Matty Healy) that she was warned against. She wrote, “They shook their heads saying, ‘God, help her’ when I told them he’s my man. But your good Lord didn’t need to lift a finger – I can fix him, no, really I can. Whoa, maybe I can’t”.

This album, like many of her works, took me a few listens to acclimate to it before falling completely in love with it. Interestingly, many people think of it as a mixture of her past albums Folklore and Midnights. I agree with this, and am thrilled at the result. And clearly I’m not alone—as I write this, TTPD songs take the top 14 spots on the Billboard Hot 100. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!



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