Arts

A Swiftie’s Review of The Tortured Poets Department 

Taylor Swift’s 11th album debuted on April 19, 2024 at midnight EST. Leading up to the countdown on Swift’s Instagram page hitting zero, speculation soared among fans. Some, like myself, anticipated a surprise drop of “Reputation (Taylor’s Version),” a long-awaited release. Others speculated about a double album for “The Tortured Poets Department,” which turned out to be true. At 2 AM, streaming platforms unveiled “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology,” expanding the expected 16-song album to a 31-song collection. As a devoted Swiftie, it’s only right that I provide my honest review of this new album and interpret some of my favorite songs.

Track 1: Fortnight (Feat. Post Malone) 

This was the first song on the album I listened to and originally it wasn’t my favorite, but the more I listen to it the more I love it. It has such a catchy chorus and I love that Post Malone got the bridge of the song. “Fortnight” means two weeks, which makes me think it has something to do with one of Taylor’s “exes,” Matty Healy, a singer from the band The 1975. The two had a fling back in 2014 and then were seen together periodically in mid-2023. A music video for “Fortnight” was also released on April 19th. The music video’s imagery, featuring Taylor in an asylum taking a “Forget Him” pill, coupled with lyrics referencing temporary effects and love ruining her life, solidify the connection. Despite not being a Taylor dating expert, the short-lived nature of their fling definitely aligns with the term “Fortnight.”

Track 2: The Tortured Poets Department

As the album’s title track, “The Tortured Poets Department” met my high expectations. The song’s catchy nature and rich lyricism make it a great listen. Swift’s signature lyrical work shines through, with references to Dylan Thomas and Patti Smith. These references, coupled with a nod again to Matty Healy and his affinity for typewriters, tie the song to him. Although a line mentioning a ring initially raised doubts in the Swiftie community about Healy because of the short nature of their relationship compared to her fairly recent six year long relationship with Joe Alwyn, more listens still point the song towards him. 

Track 4: Down Bad 

I love this song a lot. Its beat is very catchy and something I would listen to when I am looking for a “chill” vibe. Swift explicitly explained what this song meant and the short answer is: love-bombing. Swift’s revelation about the concept of love-bombing strikes a chord, with dramatic lines like “F-it if I can’t have him, I might just die it would make no difference.”  With her lyric “How dare you think it’s romantic, leaving me safe and stranded?” I think she references a lyric from the song “New Romantics” on the 1989 album that says, “Please leave me stranded, it’s so romantic.” The first time the 1989 album was released was in 2014 when Healy and Swift allegedly had their fling. So, this makes me think that this song is probably about Healy again.

Track 5: So Long, London

The famously anticipated track 5 is how I think of it. I have to start by saying RIP Joe Alwyn’s good reputation because this song killed any good thought every Swiftie along with myself had of him. This song is just straight up heartbreak. Her masterfully gut-wrenching lyrics can kill just about anyone. Swift released a song titled “You’re Losing Me” on Midnights a few months before announcing TTPD. At the end of the song, she says, ”My heart won’t start anymore.” Then in “So Long, London” she says, ”I stopped CPR, after all, it’s no use.” She ends the song singing, ”Two graves, one gun, you’ll find someone.” This is just an unreal way to end such an emotional song that tugs at the heartstrings.

Track 10: Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me?

This is my favorite track on the album out of all 31. Everything about it sounds and feels perfect. Despite various interpretations, the song’s quality and craftsmanship are undeniable. The complex lyrics like “I leap from the gallows and I levitate down your street,” sounds like you are truly reading a Taylor-produced novel. Then when she says, “Who’s afraid of little old me?….You should be” it just sends shivers down my back because of the sheer power she’s exuding. Everything about this song is so well done and the lyricism transforms it into a true masterpiece. It’s not obvious what this song is about. Many say it could range from her drama with Kanye West to her situation with Matty Healy. 

Track 13: I Can Do It With a Broken Heart 

“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” is absolutely in my top 5 for this album. The depressing lyrics with such upbeat music are so conflicting (just like what was going on in her life when she wrote it), and that’s what makes it amazing. Swift’s ability to convey complex emotions through music shines through once again, making it a memorable track. This song is about how Swift was able to perform three hour, history making shows at The Eras Tour even though she was going through her nasty break-up after a six year long relationship. Many videos of her crying went viral of her singing a track on a different album called “Lover” and that was just about all the sad emotion we got out of Swift during this time that we now know was awful for her. 

Track 18: imgonnagetyouback 

I really like the vibe of this song and how the meaning can go both ways. It reminds me a lot of Olivia Rodrigo’s song “Get Him Back” off of her recent album “GUTS.” This song is definitely a versatile track with dual interpretations. The beat of this song is catchy and something I would hear on the radio even if I wasn’t exactly a die hard Taylor Swift fan.

In the song, Swift sings, “Whether I’m gonna be your wife or / Gonna smash up your bike, I haven’t decided yet.” So she is either going to get him back as a lover or get him back with hatred and revenge and the best part is “he” has no idea and neither does the listener. 

Track 31: The Manuscript 

This is the last song on the album. Swift closes out this insane album with a track that can only be described as closure. She is finally letting go of her past and all the anger she has from it and that is seen in every song leading up to this one. The end (figuratively and literally) proves she is moving forward after releasing all her emotions. Ending the song with “Now and then I re-read the manuscript but the story isn’t mine anymore” shows that she is releasing her feelings to her fans and it’s our turn to heal in whatever way we need. This is her coming out and saying it’s done and she is ready to look past it in my opinion which is a great example of the closure just about all of us need in certain aspects of life.

Overall, Taylor Swift’s album “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” offers a mix of emotions and stories. Each song, with its catchy tunes and meaningful lyrics, takes listeners on a journey through Swift’s experiences and feelings. From love and heartbreak to resilience and more, the album gives us a range of emotions that many can relate to. It’s a reminder of Swift’s talent as a songwriter and her ability to connect with her Swifties on a personal level. Truly another showcase of Taylor Swift’s lasting impact on music and storytelling.

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