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The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

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Swift reveals heart-wrenching, versatile album

Album review: The Tortured Poets Department by Taylor Swift
Morgan Salisbury

“The Tortured Poets Department” is Taylor Swift’s most vulnerable album yet. 

With tracks ranging from upbeat tunes like “I Can Do It With A Broken Heart” and “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” to chilling breakup anthems like “So Long, London” and “loml,” the album is lyrically and musically versatile.

Two hours after its initial release, Swift surprised fans with an additional fifteen songs in “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology.”

The album has received a lot of discourse from the media, both negative and positive. Fans expected the album to be mostly based on the end of her six-year relationship with actor Joe Alwyn. However a large portion of the album seems to be about her brief relationship with The 1975 lead singer Matty Healy. 

Throughout the 21 years of her career, Swift has experimented with many different genres of music: country, pop, indie, folk, synth-pop, and more. What makes this album more personal is that it gives us a deeper look into her life, every single song is a detailed description of her feelings and events in her life.

The opening song, “Fortnight” featuring Post Malone became Spotify’s most streamed song in a single day. The term ‘fortnight’ is a British term, which signifies a fourteen-day period, is used to refer to her two latest ex-boyfriends. The memorable chorus mixed with the synth-pop beat blends perfectly.

“I love you, it’s ruining my life,” Swift wrote. “Another fortnight lost in America.”

In all ten of Swift’s previous studio albums, the fifth tracks are infamous for being the most personal. Popular track fives from her albums include “All Too Well,” “Dear John,” “The Archer,” “my tears ricochet,” “tolerate it,” and “You’re On Your Own Kid.”

  “So Long London” is the newest addition to the list; and my personal favorite. Swift tells the story of her relationship with Alwyn. She recalls feeling like she’s in a one-sided relationship, and the sadness she experiences towards the end. 

Swift exhibits her incredible songwriting abilities with lyrics like: “I stopped CPR, after all it’s no use,” Swift wrote. “And I’m pissed off you let me give you all that youth for free.”

A common characteristic of Swift’s track fives is their captivating bridges. 

Swift opens the bridge with the line, “You say I abandoned this ship / But I was going down with it.” This refers to their relationship going in a downward spiral, and she feels herself deepening further into depression. In my opinion, it’s the most heartbreaking song of the album because she talks about her relationship not ending because of a specific event, but due to a slow downfall.

Swift, along with Florence + The Machine, show their appreciation for the sunshine state in the song “Florida!!!” 

The two write about how the state provides them, and others, with an escape from reality: “I need to forget so take me to Florida / I’ve got some regrets, I’ll bury them in Florida.”

One of the most memorable breakup tracks is “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,” which is filled with questions rumored to be directed at Healy. The whole song feels like a buildup to the best bridge of the album where you can feel the anger in Swift’s voice. 

She opens the bridge with the lines: “Were you sent by someone / Who wanted me dead? / Did you sleep with a g*n underneath our bed?” 

Ever since Swifties in Lawrence found out about her relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, the couple has not gotten out of our minds. In TTPD, there are two (and a half) songs about her current boyfriend: “The Alchemy” and “So High School.” 

She makes references to football in both songs; in “The Alchemy” she says, “Touchdown / Call the amateurs and cut ‘em from the team.” 

The lyrics may seem a little cliché, but Swift does this to represent the way her relationship feels and how she’s being treated better than ever before. “So High School” is my favorite song about Kelce, the title perfectly sums up the song. 

“You know how to ball, I know Aristotle,” Swift said. 

One of the most discussed songs is “thanK you aIMee,” directed at Kim Kardashian, who has been on bad terms with Swift since the 2009 VMA incident. If you didn’t notice, the capitalized letters spell out “Kim,” referring to Kardashian herself.

“Screamed ‘F*ck you, Aimee’ to the night sky as the blood was gushin’ / But I can’t forget the way you made me heal,” Swift wrote. Some may interpret it as a diss track, but to me it seems like an homage to the way that the whole drama between them made her a better person.

Her lyricism makes this album stand out, but the production is repetitive and a little underwhelming. The same few chords are repeated many times throughout the 31 songs. Even when I listened to it for the first time, it was very easy for me to tell which songs were co-produced by either Jack Antonoff or Aaron Dessner. 

However, I believe that Swift and her co-producers did this on purpose to show the ups and downs of her life. Another way they show the inconsistency she experiences is through the order of the tracks, one moment, you’re dancing to an upbeat synth-pop tune and the next you’re balling your eyes out to one of the most heartbreaking ballads ever. 

Arguably the most vulnerable part of the album are the songs where Swift expresses her insecurities and her struggles with fame. 

In “Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me?” Swift writes about how she feels like a burden and an amusement to the public, “I was tame, I was gentle ‘til the circus life made me mean.”

“I Can Do It With A Broken Heart” also touches on how her well-being is overshadowed by the fact that she is a superstar. She writes about going through a breakup but still having to perform and make other people happy. 

“All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was chanting, ‘More,’” she says.

Since it has been released, “The Tortured Poets Department” has already broken records. It is Spotify’s most streamed album in a single day and it’s first album to hit 1 billion streams in a week.

With her recent increase in popularity due to the Eras Tour, Taylor Swift has left her legacy on the world. And with her new album, the legacy continues.

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About the Contributors
Mimi Rosado
Mimi Rosado, Reporter
I am a first-year writer on the journalism staff. When I'm not writing, you can find me at the gym or hanging out with my friends. I am very excited to be on staff this year, and excited to work alongside my peers.
Morgan Salisbury
Morgan Salisbury, Tech Editor
In my second year on staff, I've been focusing on design, graphics, and helping out wherever I can. When I'm not working on school, you'll find me listening to music, petting my dog, or trying to relax.

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