The 14-year-old music newbie Taylor Swift, who crooned about teardrops on her guitar, is long gone. The now 29 year old has established herself as a music icon who has disrupted the music industry since the release of her debut LP “Taylor Swift” almost 13 years ago.
And now, the country-turned-pop-superstar has released her seventh studio album titled “Lover” on Aug. 23. The singer’s latest addition to her discography strays away from the upbeat pop disses at critics that were found on her 2017 record “Reputation,” and takes a deeper dive into the singer’s personal life. Swift has talent, confirmed by her numerous Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year in 2010 and 2016. However, “Lover” merely tells stories about a girl either being in love or getting over a breakup, with a few exceptions.
Many songs from “Lover” have Swift’s typical self-assertive attitude, with examples being “ME!” featuring Panic! At the Disco’s Brandon Urie, “Lover” and “You Need to Calm Down.” Her voice is powerful and loud in these tracks, and have a sense of authority. It’s as if she’s stating what she believes and she’s not changing her mind like in “Bad Blood” from her album “1989,” “Look What You Made Me Do” from her album “Reputation” and Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” from the “Red” album.
Although she expresses this same powerful confidence in the tracks “ME!,” “Lover” and “You Need to Calm Down,” it appears the others don’t reach their full potential. Some songs, like “Soon You’ll Get Better” and “It’s Nice to Have A Friend,” are just plain underwhelming. In “Soon You’ll Get Better,” Swift is the main vocal throughout the entire song, and the Dixie Chicks sing harmonies during the chorus. The lack of the Dixie Chicks’ vocals seems like a poor use of the group, considering “ME!” showcased Urie’s vocals much more. While listening to the track, it fails to keep the audience’s attention.
“It’s Nice To Have A Friend” seems too casual, like Swift didn’t put much lyrical thought into it. It’s simply about daily activities such as walking home after school, hanging out at home and playing video games with the phrase “It’s Nice to Have A Friend” added after each verse.
While most of the album has more of a pop-based sound, she does give listeners a refreshing break in a few songs. In “Cruel Summer,” Swift seems to go for a more 1980s pop sound, as she uses a synthesizer to make robotic sounds for her instrumental that flows under her smooth voice, making the track sound somewhat dream-like.
Another song that stands out is “Paper Rings.” In this track, Swift aims for a completely different sound, and it pays off. The track’s upbeat rhythm makes the audience want to get up and dance. Swift also uses a muffler effect on her voice and goes for an early 2000s pop sound with the use of instruments like an electric guitar, tambourines and drums.
Swift also seems to be experimenting with more electropop instead of her typical pop sound in a few of her songs. “Cornelia Street” and “London Boy” are prime examples of this. “Cornelia Street” bounces along a keyboard line that sounds almost flute-like and floats under Swift’s echoing vocals. “London Boy” adds layers of synths and repetitive beats, which exemplifies electropop.
Swift also seems to follow in Reba McEntire’s example with her song “The Man.” In Swift’s track, she opts for a more electropop sound while McEntire’s had more of an acoustic, soft sound. The only similarity is the message found in the lyrics, as both tracks bring women's societal pressures to the forefront.
Overall, “Lover” is a great listen for long-time Swift fans, but newcomers might want to listen to her three previous albums before diving into this record as “Lover” lacks a wow-factor and fails to leave an impression on its listeners.