Taylor Swift polarizes the audience with new album – Sonoma State Star

On Friday, April 19, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her eleventh full-length studio album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department’. Spanning synth-pop and folk-pop genres, the 16-track standard edition of the album includes collaborations with artist Post Malone and indie rock band Florence + the Machine.

Swift followed up the standard release with the addition of “The Anthology,” a double album with 15 bonus tracks. The additional tracks hearken back to Swift’s “Folklore” and “Evermore” days, composed primarily of the indie folk foundations that musically defined the aforementioned albums.

The album’s songwriting is cathartic, taking an introspective approach to Swift’s conflicting public and private lives. Lyrically, “The Tortured Poets Department” contains self-awareness and vulnerability with wit and humor. During Swift’s Oceania leg of the Eras Tour in February, the singer described the album’s creation as necessary. “It kind of reminded me why writing songs gets me through life,” Swift said.

Last Thursday, Swift rearranged the Eras Tour setlist at the start of the tour’s European leg in Paris. The set list consists of the songs ‘But Daddy I Love Him’, ‘So High School’, ‘Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?’, ‘Down Bad’, ‘Fortnight’, ‘The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived’ and “I can do it with a broken heart.”

Several SSU students praised “The Tortured Poets Department” after its release. Anahi Guzman described the album as “raw, passionate and heartbreaking.” The fourth-year sociology student especially praised the electro-pop song “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” a song that describes the dichotomy of Swift’s inner turmoil and diligent work ethic. Guzman’s connection to the song stems from the lyrics, “I cry a lot, but I’m so productive, it’s an art,” which Guzman said resonated with her circumstances as a prospective graduate taking final exams.

Sophia Brown praised Swift’s lyricism on the album. Brown, a third-year communications major, is a self-described “renewed Swiftie” and described “The Tortured Poets Department” as a lyrical masterpiece. “(The album) brings different vibrations to each song,” Brown said.

Taylor once again proved that she is a lyrical genius through the unique way she writes her experiences and feelings into a song

– Natalia Casas

Natalia Casas, a third-year early childhood education major, highlighted the rhythm and catchiness of the song “Fresh Out the Slammer,” comparing it to “Clean,” a song from Swift’s 2014 album, “1989.” “Taylor has once again proven that she is a lyrical genius with the way she uniquely writes about her experiences and feelings in song,” said Casas.

Media reactions to “The Tortured Poets Department” are in stark contrast to the album’s favorable reception on campus. Publications such as Rolling Stone, Elle and Business Insider have described the album’s reception as “polarized” among critics and fans alike.

According to review aggregator Metacritic, “The Tortured Poets Department” earned a score of 76 out of 100, which is staggering compared to Swift’s previous album “Midnights,” which averaged an 85. While Line of Best Field journalist Paul Bridgewater called the album Swift’s Most coherently, the BBC’s Mark Savage criticized the album as monotonous. An anonymous review in the entertainment magazine Paste condemned “The Tortured Poets Department” as unreliable and exclaimed that “Sylvia Plath didn’t stick her head in an oven for this.”

Swift, named Time Magazine’s 2023 Person of the Year, turned heads at every turn, with her frequent album releases, world tours and relationships accentuating her increased fame. The mixed reception of “The Tortured Poets Department” illustrates Swift’s cultural relevance and may serve as a counter-reaction to the singer’s media attention. However, one thing is certain: Swift won’t be out of our minds anytime soon.