‘Like eating too much chocolate’: Guardian readers on Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department

Estimated read time 5 min read

‘One of her best albums, lyrically’

As someone who has been a Swiftie for over a decade, my initial impression is that this album is one of her best lyrically, but production-wise it can get a bit repetitive by the end. While Folklore, Evermore and Midnights were full of either fictional tales or vague reminiscences, The Tortured Poets Department is a clear return to her old style of extremely personal, confessional songwriting, but still retaining the poetic lyricism she’s acquired in recent years. Some critics might find the album boring or confusing, but I think the fans familiar with her past work will have an easier time understanding the little details and references, and will have a great time analysing them.
Elena, 23, Spain

‘She speaks to us all regardless of age’

I loved the lyrics, which are most definitely poetic in the best sense of the word. Moving elegies as well as joyous numbers. The compositions are beautifully constructed with the piano being the perfect instrument to lend gravity and pathos to the songs. Regardless of which lover Taylor may be singing about, the thoughts and feelings she expresses speak to all of us regardless of age. We’ve all experienced similar times in our lives.
Lorraine Kennedy, 74, Australia

‘Her voice has grown more ethereal’

I came across the beautiful Folklore album when it came out, and loved the Aaron Dessner influence. The Tortured Poets Department follows the pattern of Swift’s clever, intelligent and rarely cliched lyrics with a voice that has grown more ethereal as she has matured. This album could be criticised for its length. It has taken me two evenings to get through it and it is a bit like eating far too much chocolate. I am going to enjoy nibbling my way through subsequent listens.
David, Sussex

‘I’ve giggled, cried and felt her anger’

Absolutely breathtaking. A book of poetry set to melody and pure balm for the soul. Whether you follow Taylor’s life closely or not (I don’t really), the words and themes are so relatable. Truly, she is a genius songwriter. Lines like “better to be safe rather than starry eyed” just punch you in the gut. For the first time since I was a teenager, I’ve played an album on repeat for two days in a row and I’m still not sick of it. I’ve giggled, cried and felt her anger. My favourite song of them all is The Black Dog, closely followed by The Prophecy, but I can’t fault one of them.
Keri Bainborough, 39, Lincoln

‘Bland and samey’

I wouldn’t call myself a fan but I find her lyrics interesting. On this album, they seem to be the focus. Certainly the rest of the music is bland, samey, and seems to exist as a second-thought accompaniment. At the same time, it seems a pity that a writer so intelligent, so creative and so important to her fanbase has so little of significance to say – and so much of it about failed relationships. I believe she’s an artist with more to say. She has the money to stop chasing popularity and take an unexpected turn. I’d like to see that.
Matt, Bradford

‘The quality and quantity of her output is off the scale’

Most mass appeal phenomena tend to rely on dumbing down. But in Taylor Swift we have the opposite. The quality and quantity of her output is off the scale. She has managed to write and record 31 new songs in the middle of a world tour of three-hour shows, as well as completing a couple of rerecorded TV albums. And for the fan-dads like me, how fantastic to find her making a reference to The Downtown Lights by the Blue Nile. It’s a song from an album called Hats, which since 1989 has proved to be one of my most loyal friends in life. I hope a new generation of Swifties will be introduced to their unique music – strangely comforting and melancholic at the same time.
Pat, Bristol

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‘It’s very dense’

It’s very dense, like all of her albums but even more so. It seems a bit repetitive of her old material though: I am hearing melodies, rhythms, chord progressions and riffs she has used before. And the lyrics seem a bit indulgent – but that’s just Taylor, bless her. Her material is always so subtle that until you find your way into the songs, you don’t hear the detail, which is where the genius (hopefully) lies.
Leon Berrange, London

‘Her most unrelatable yet’

I was disappointed by the sonic unimaginativeness and the similarity of the production to her last few albums. Anthology is the sole reason this won’t be a one-time listen for me. It makes no sense to me to promote and release the first 16 tracks as the normal album, while consigning the much better 15 songs to streaming only. I also found this album her most unrelatable yet (despite also having survived the breakdown of a six-year relationship). It doesn’t help that one of the main subjects of the album is someone who many people find unlikeable and unpleasant for his views along other things. This Swiftie is disappointed and hopes some creative re-evaluation is in order for the future. I don’t need an album every six months: I would rather wait for a masterpiece.
Marie, Cambridgeshire

Source: theguardian.com

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