Taylor Swift’s albums are always similar to reading a good book. You have some semblance of the narrative and what the themes will be by the blurb on the back, or in this sense the period of her life she’s in. But it isn’t until the words are taken off of the paper and settle within you that it takes you to an entirely different place.
When Lover came out, I was already in a different country than my own–8,094 miles away to be exact. I was celebrating my favorite show, Supernatural, in the place that birthed it, which also happens to be my favorite city in the world. So already with a collection of things that were incredibly important to me, I heard the starting beats of a tune that ripped us right out of the dark undertones of Reputation and into something which captured everything I had been feeling in that instant. Those sentiments of joy and the kind of love where every small detail in your life stands still for that one perfect moment.
This is why “I Forgot That You Existed” works as the perfect opening song for her seventh album, Lover. Of course, when a song is written by Swift there comes a circulation of rumors about who it’s about, and it doesn’t take much investigation to know that Calvin Harris is at the heart of this one. But with the composition of something taken out of the 80s, it paints the tune as much more than a reply to their breakup. It’s about the liberating feeling of coming out of the period of your life that you didn’t think would end. However, with the way time works, soon you have no recollection of the pain you endured. It’s simply another washed-out memory. Swift has finally let go of the string of feuds and tainted experiences the Reputation era brought, and much in tune to the snake bursting into a butterfly, she has catapulted into the Lover era.
If “Getaway Car” had a baby (and I’m not officially saying that it’s a continuation of the song although it seems that way) then we would have “Cruel Summer”. The production is its starting point, in alignment with the alternative pop Swift has been aiming for, but then the lyrics are so well written that it would take a super-sleuth to work out all of its intricate metaphors–each serving a pointy impactful punch. It’s also the start of addressing her lover with the color blue, which has attached itself to the course of the album’s narrative. In this case—”the shape of your body, it’s blue”—is about the beginning stages of a relationship being one of exploration. And while there’s a beauty to it, it can also turn the situation into being tainted by complicatedness when your world is media orientated.
“Lover” was the third single off of the record, and the titular track, which reminded me that underneath the poppy embellishments of her recent works there is still the girl who sat on the floor of her bedroom writing country songs. Its stripped-back, folky twang matches the rhythmic swing coming from the lyrics.
In today’s time when the Me Too movement is still prevalent, there isn’t a track more important than “The Man”. And not that I need any reminders as to why Swift should be a role model for the younger generation, this feminist anthem provides it. The narrative details every obstacle she’s had to overcome in the music industry simply due to the fact of her being of the female sex. More than that, it’s the type of song that should be played during women’s marches, as it not only represents her story, but the double standards held in any industry.
In the Swifty fandom, track five has a certain allure to it, being that it’s her most emotional tune off of the record. Red had “All Too Well”, “Delicate” for Reputation and now with “The Archer” for Lover. Although in my humble opinion, I think there are other songs that deserve to take its place, I do understand why this track is incredibly personal to Swift. Her life is unlike anything we’ll ever truly know, meaning it’s hard for anyone to fall into the fishbowl where “all of my heroes die all alone”. She had to form an acceptance to the demons surrounding her and know in spite of them being there, she’s still capable of having an unending love.
“I Think He Knows” is the feet-tapping break needed from an emotional outpour. It also shows Swift’s current confidence in who she is and her sexual prowess, which hasn’t always been there in the past. The distinct lyrical change of her being the one driving the car in comparison to the one in the “passenger seat” seen in previous songs shows that she’s now in control when it comes to her desires.
“Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” is layered with a plethora of political nods making it one of the many tracks off of the album with Swift’s political views which have been a prevalent theme in this era. These nods, however, are so subtle that one would miss them if they were to brush over the lyrics. With its slow, climatic composition and echoed bridge it’s the type of song any artist wishes they could have in their arsenal.
Whilst her lyrics are enough to garner the attention Swift has, it’s also important to note her level of diversity and “Paper Rings” does this. With the immediate need to dance, it’s reminiscent of the late 90s and early 2000s garbage band pop tunes. Something we would find as the perfect backing track for the teen flicks of that time.
With the same tempo as “Delicate”, “Cornelia Street” is the continuation of the idea of something being fragile. We all have that one place in our lives, that one city, that one street, that we’d never walk again because it’s laced in heartbreak. It doesn’t have to be from a relationship, but the feeling of finality when chapters in our lives come to an end and all that’s left is the memories staying behind. We want to soak up all the smells and tastes for the fear of that day arriving, when the place where we would be able to relive it is through those films playing in our heads. For when we travel back it won’t be the same as when we left it.
With the inspiration for Swift’s songs passing her diary pages, “Death By A Thousand Cuts” may be the solitary that has broken that cycle. The Netflix rom-com hit Someone Great starring Gina Rodriguez tells the story of the ending of a love story over the period of a night, and is also the inspiration for this track. In true cycle of creativity, “Clean” inspired the creation of the film. The song’s lyrics, some of my personal favorites, are hidden behind an upbeat production. Also making it for the only heartbreak track on the record given Swift’s current headspace.
“London Boy” starts the inclusion of speaking dialogue on the record. With a dozen other references to British dialect and their culture she experienced over three years, it can instantly take someone back to their time in the city. The production buildup of this song is incredible with the end chorus and outro and the constant beat. This is the type of song that I can’t wait to see what bells and whistles she brings out on tour to sync the atmosphere of the song with the one felt by the crowd.
The first song of Swift’s that ever made me cry was “Never Grow Up”. For someone who knows me, it makes sense as I’m one for both sensitivity and sentimentality. It reminds me to never take things for granted, as life in itself doesn’t wait for anybody. “Soon You’ll Get Better” featuring Dixie Chicks gave me that same impactful punch in my gut. It’s stripped down with hardly any production except for the strums of a guitar, but it doesn’t need anything else.
I’ll admit to “False God” not being one of my top favorites on the record. Given that it’s filled with gemstones, a few of those diamonds had to fall under the waistline. Yet I love the hints of saxophones used in the percussion. Its soft jazz ballad is reminiscent of a toned-down “Don’t Blame Me”–a little sexier than her others. Then there’s the lyric “staring out the window like I’m not your favorite town… I’m New York City” which is an instant top contender and #mood.
“You Need To Calm Down” is the aftereffect of the easter egg filled first single “Me!”. Its starstruck music video with a serve of LGBTQ+ rights just recently won MTV’s Video of the Year.
With its heavy bass, “Afterglow” lets its cutting lyrics pave light and admittance to Swift’s personal mistakes in her relationships. It’s for the overthinkers, the fearful daydreamers, who see the red light before even reaching the amber.
Okay, so by this point, one should be sick of the overplayed track on the radio, but the upbeat self-motivated “Me!” featuring Brendon Urie still puts me in the headspace of being able to take over the world. Maybe it’s due to the fact that Swift and Urie’s sunshiny vocals work in a perfect unison.
The next track, and also the shortest, is my numero uno on the record. There are many things to love about “Its Nice To Have A Friend”, from its eerie production value, which instantly takes you to any Pretty Little Liars scene ever when they were running through the woods, to the combination of the trumpet sounds and choir. It’s for those lonely hours, those periods of our lives that comes after a dry spell of only having oneself.
“Daylight” is the perfect ending chapter that resolves the journey she has taken us on. Another simple ballad from the keys of her piano and the soft echoed beats of the drum, yet it creates the metaphor of the storm finally being cleared and her living in the endgame. The lessons she’s reflected on in the previous songs having been learned. I also really love the personal touch from the audio message. It is important to note that whilst we find ourselves in those darker shades in our lives, it is when we let those go when we are able to come back to being our true selves.
Presenting Swift’s artistry at its peak, Lover is the perfect installment for the current time in her life. Its sound is a little more mature, but underneath the alternative there lies the poetic lyrics which create the connection she’s always had with the people who decided to pick up her record and let it be the soundtrack to their own experiences.