After the polarising release of ME!, the pop culture capitaliser turned pride anthem You Need To Calm Down and the delicately produced The Archer, knowing what to expect from Taylor Swift’s impending LP was an impossible task. Lover is by no means a disappointment – if anything it’s an assurance that Swift still possesses the same magic that made records like 1989 and Speak Now so immeasurably successful.
Swift keeps things playful – quick paced melodies with spoken ad libs and tight, electronic production care of Lorde’s team Jack Antonoff and Joel Little (among others, no Max Martin in sight however). Lover is entirely a pop record – it lacks the darkness and overhauled production of it’s predecessor Reputation, with not an explosive break down in sight. This new album is light; it’s a cloud where Swift explores her new love in skies of positivity. It feels genuine and at times self-reflective. Tracks like Afterglow and I Think He Knows tease a balance between subtle introspection and mindless adoration.
There’s not a moment out of place, this new record a well polished love letter. Swift seems calmer, less concerned with public concern and her snake-doused alter ego and more consumed with her Lover. Instead of writing for an audience, it seems like she’s writing for herself. The production is restrained to match Swift’s demeanour, the instrumentation purposeful and compact.
It’s Nice To Have A Friend plays with new sounds, Swift’s airy tone the only familiar aspect as the track starts and ends without fuss, and nothing to prove. There’s a lot of references to high school considering the singer is 30, but it feels part of Taylor’s MO to conjure up memories and play to the younger audience. At times it feels cringeworthy, but at others it works – most notably in Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince. Somehow, the immaturity that should be as striking as it was in ME! is nowhere to be found. The song holds emotion, layers its sounds perfectly and carries a hint of darkness with its brooding synth.
False God is a major highlight: a grooving, snappy drum beat coupled with a smooth, melodically explorative delivery from Swift. All of the songs themselves intertwine to bring forth one wall of sound. It’s an experience, like stepping into Taylor’s world rather than having her pushing it into your face. It’s intimate, and it’s a well crafted exploration of a softer side to the singer.
Swift is exceptional. She seamlessly slips into another version of herself and produces yet another pop defining record.