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Mercy High School ~ Farmington Hills, Michigan


Mercy High School ~ Farmington Hills, Michigan


Mercy High School ~ Farmington Hills, Michigan


The Tortured Poets Department is torture (no really it is) 


This past Friday, at midnight on April 19th, superstar Taylor Swift released her much anticipated 16-track eleventh studio album The Tortured Poets Department. Just a mere two hours later, Swift dropped a bonus edition of the album containing 15 extra songs titled The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology. 

Swifties all over the world shared their thoughts, feelings and theories about the album and who each song is about. The reviews of the record have been overwhelmingly positive with Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield calling it “Taylor Swift’s most personal album yet”, but I personally did not love it as much as some. 

As a fan of Swift, I was deeply disappointed by this album. In my honest opinion, it sounds like some sort of attempt to revive the success she found in the alternative genre with her eighth and ninth sister albums Folklore and Evermore. Sadly, when comparing The Tortured Poets Department (or as Swifties are calling it TTPD) to the aforementioned sister albums, I think it is abundantly clear that making alternative music is not Swift’s strong suit. 

I think that Swift might be trying too hard on this record. The songs are extremely wordy, there is no time to breathe between each of the lines because every one immediately rushes into the next. Unlike all of Swift’s previous work, there is nothing catchy about TTPD. Swift is known for her infectious hooks and choruses that are impossible to dislike but on this record I can’t recall a single melody or lyric that has been stuck in my head. 

The lyrics on this album are also not the best, in my opinion. You would think that a lyricist like Swift on a record she claims is poetry would bring me to tears, but instead she just made me cringe.

“We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist.” “I’d say the 1800s but without all the racists.” “I’m so depressed I act like it’s my birthday everyday.”

Believe it or not, these are all lyrics from TTPD. The same musician that wrote “I knew you’d linger like a tattoo kiss, I knew you’d haunt all of my what-ifs” and “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky, now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life” in “Cardigan” and “Tolerate It” wrote “Touch me while your bros play Grand Theft Auto” in “So High School.” 

One criticism that Taylor Swift haters have thrown around since the beginning of her career is “all her music sounds the same.” As a Swift fan, I have always been the first to deny this claim. “Shake It Off” sounds nothing like “The Archer” and even songs off the same album like Reputation tracks “Ready for it…” and “New Year’s Day” are basically completely different genres. But unfortunately, this album might have just proven those Swift haters right. Almost every single song off TTPD sounds the same. There were times when listening to the 31 track album where I genuinely could not tell when one song ended and the other started. 

However, this part of the album’s shortcomings is most likely not completely Swift’s fault. I think the main reason all the songs sound so unbearably familiar is due, in part, to her producer Jack Antonoff.

Jack Antonoff is an American record producer and musician who is most known for his work with artists like Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and Lorde. Swift started working with Antonoff in 2013 for the song “Sweeter than Fiction.” Later, they collaborated on Swift’s Grammy winning pop album 1989. 

After over a decade of collaboration, the duo is still going strong but I think it might be time for a break. While Antonoff is undeniably and extremely talented, on this most recent album it is starting to become more apparent that he is running out of ideas production wise. Some fans even noticed that some songs off TTPD sound eerily similar to the music of other artists Antonoff has produced for. One TikTok user (itsemilymarie), pointed out that track 13 off TTPD has almost the same exact beat as Lorde’s “Supercut” off her 2017 album Melodrama which was also produced by Antonoff. 

However, I will admit there are some highlights on TTPD. The opening track, “Fortnight” featuring Post Malone, has a dreamy, melancholic production that differs from the rest of the album. To my surprise, Swift and Malone’s vocals blended very well making it one of my favorites off the record.

Other songs like “Florida!!!” featuring Florence + the Machine, “Guilty as sin?” and “The Alchemy” are all strong points. Songwriting wise, Swift shines on “So Long, London” and “loml” which most fans think are the saddest or dare I say most tortured songs on the album.

While I admit there are a handful of good songs on the album, they are by no means Swift’s best, not by a long shot. As a whole, the album is too long, too wordy and too whiny and was a disappointing follow up to 2022’s Midnights, which by no means is my favorite but is still much better than 2024’s TTPD. 

All in all, I think The Tortured Poets Department is a sign that Taylor Swift needs a break. Over the past four years, Swift has released and re-released a whopping eight albums which is more than some artists Swift’s age have in their entire discography. Not to mention, Swift has been on a record breaking stadium tour since early 2023. It seems like Swift is overworking herself and that her art is suffering because of it. I will always be a fan of Swift but I think she maybe needs to leave behind all the tortured poetry for a while and go back to being a popstar. 


The Tortured Poets Department: 5.3/10

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