Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated seventh album is undisputedly her best offering yet; musically, lyrically, and narratively. I’ve read innumerable reviews and comments, and so far, everyone who has listened to the album has loved it.
It is a testament to her storytelling, her talent, and her now definitive status as an icon of our generation. Album’s like Lover do not come about very often, and it will likely go down in music history alongside the likes of Thriller, Rumours, and Abbey Road. It was an album I wanted to take time to digest before writing this track by track analysis of an album that will inevitably go on to be a defining element of Swift’s career.
Over the past decade Swift has transformed herself from naïve teen country singer to an indomitable force of the popular music industry. Each of her albums, from her debut Taylor Swift right through to the jaded Reputation, has shown a new side of the singer-songwriter, who has always placed her lyrical ability at the heart of everything she does. I have seen many fans compare Lover to previous stages of Swift’s career; the musicality of 1989, the raw emotions of Red, or the shift away from the edginess of Reputation. The thing about Lover is that it isn’t like any of Swift’s previous albums, whilst also being the cumulation of them all. If Swift’s career has been a fairy-tale, then Lover is the happy ending. Every heartbreak, every hater, every struggle all lead to this point; to the album that will define an era of music.
I Forgot That You Existed
The album opens with a track that is both simplistic and joyful, whilst also being the perfect way to close the door on some of the anxieties that fuelled Swift’s song writing on Reputation. After an album primarily focused on the rumours and rivalries which have dogged Swift’s career ever since Kanye hijacked her acceptance speech at the 2009 VMA’s, I Forgot That You Existed relishes in the experience if shrugging it off.
Best Lyric: It isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference
The second track of the album has instantly secured its place as a fan favourite and is one of the songs tipped to be a potential future single. It’s easy to see why because it’s an absolute banger! Despite not being released until almost the end of summer, this might just the song of the summer. Swift’s vocal capabilities are on full display here, setting the trend for an album that is not just lyrically Swift’s best, but also the best she’s ever sounded vocally.
Best Lyric: He looks up grinning like a devil
The title track snatches the crown for best wedding song for the 21st Century from Ed Sheeran with dreamy vow-like lyrics and the perfect rhythm for a waltz. As much as Swift has received some mocking for the lyric about leaving ‘Christmas Lights up till January’ (literally everyone does that anyway!) the song doesn’t take itself to seriously, instead choosing to enjoy the blissful feeling of being in love without a care in the world. The video is also a sublime summary of the album as a whole, showing a snow globe house where each room represents a different Swift era existing in perfect harmony.
Best Lyric: You’ll save all your dirtiest jokes for me
I might be biased but this is probably the best song on the album. It might not be a banger like Cruel Summer, or a lyrical fairy-tale like Cornelia Street, but it is a new kind of feminist anthem that we never knew we needed. In a world where the music industry has been selling us girl power for over two decades now, Swift offers a refreshingly honest take on the situation she has faced as a female artist that resonates with women around the world. The song highlights the double standards that she, and other female artists, have faced throughout their careers.
Best Lyric: It’s okay that I’m mad
The Archer was one of the pre-release tracks from the album that took some time to grow on me. After The Man’s catchy pop hooks about her experiences as a woman in the spotlight, The Archer is a more personal, surreal track that explores Swift’s experiences of dating in the public eye. The way the track builds alongside the raw lyrics is phenomenal.
Best Lyric: All the king’s horses, all the king’s men, couldn’t put me together again
I Think He Knows
I Think He Knows is one of the less prominent tracks on the album, but that doesn’t make it any less good. An unassuming pop track where Swift really flexes her witty lyricism with sexual innuendos galore. It’s not your typical song about sex but then when has Swift ever stuck to the norm- instead she showcases a more playful and fun attitude to the subject that is both refreshing and slightly cheesy in a really good way.
Best Lyric: Got that, oh! I mean
Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince
This song was the moment during my first listen through of the album that I stopped loving it and started adoring it. It’s melancholic pop vibes alongside Swifts pseudo-political high school metaphors make it one of the most lyrically interesting offerings on the album (which on a Taylor Swift album is saying something!) It is both a cynical and an optimistic critique of America that is both fascinating and also really really catchy.
Best Lyric: They whisper in the hallway, “she’s a bad, bad girl”
It’s cheesy! it’s adorable! it’s fun! What is not to love? After the bittersweet Miss Americana, Paper Rings brings pure, unadulterated joy. A friend of mine remarked that it reminded them of Stay Stay Stay from Red; both are upbeat, fun tracks that really encapsulate the positivity and happiness that comes with unconditional love, as well as an appreciation for the little things in a relationship.
Best Lyric: I like shiny things, but I’d marry you with paper rings
One thing Swift does incredibly well is telling a story through music. She captured the imaginations of fans the world over with All To Well, and she’s done it again on Cornelia Street. It’s the little details and raw honesty that define a truly great Taylor Swift song and this has it in absolute spades. It’s beautiful, dreamy, breath-taking, and a real highlight on an incredible album.
Best Lyric: The whole song! But ‘cause it reminds me of Africa by Toto; We bless the rains on Cornelia Street
Death by a Thousand Cuts
Probably another song that gets a little bit lost in the long and diverse track list. Death by a Thousand Cuts is the albums token break up song, that juxtaposes sombre lyrics with a more uplifting melody. It’s definitely a song that has to grow on you, but after a few listens you’ll suddenly find yourself singing it in the shower!
Best Lyric: But if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?
A song that has definitely made waves online, London Boy is in the company of Paper Rings and I Think He Knows as a good old-fashioned cheesy love song and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I will admit that James Corden’s teensy contribution alongside Idris Elba seems a bit odd but all of it just adds to the whimsy of the track!
Best Lyric: Like a Tennessee Stella McCartney
Soon You’ll Get Better (featuring Dixie Chicks)
Soon You’ll Get Better is admittedly the only song on the album that I skip. It isn’t that I don’t like it, it’s that it is a very hard song to listen to. I have listened to it twice and it didn’t get easier the second time. The song is so personal it feels intrusive to listen to it. You could be forgiven for completely missing the contribution of the Dixie Chicks but their harmonies are flawless and their presence is more symbolic than anything else (they’re Swift’s mum’s favourite band).
Best Lyric: The buttons of my coat were tangled in my hair
Whilst Lover is probably the most definitive sound we’ve heard from Taylor Swift, encapsulating a little bit of everything that makes her great, False God is a jazzy, soulful, wonderful, experimental sound from Taylor. It’s a sensual, romantic track that borders on being R&B, but it’s still very typically Swift through it’s lyricism, and features vocals that might just be my favourite vocals on any song ever!
Best Lyric: I’m New York City, I still do it for you, babe
You Need To Calm Down
The second single off the album, with a star-studded music video that took home the VMA’s for best video (a decade after the infamous Kanye incident) as well as song for good. It’s a poppy, catchy tune that highlights both Swift’s own experiences with online trolls, as well as the hate experienced by her friends in the LGBT community. As Swift has matured, she’s become more vocal about her politics and values, and this song showcases all of that in a way that is bright and bubbly.
Best Lyric: Shade never made anybody less gay
Coming so late on the album, I know several people who’ve overlooked Afterglow on first listen but have been obsessed with it after I made them listen to it again! I’m running out of adjectives to describe the lyricism on this album, because it is the most raw and honest, we’ve seen her since Red. Afterglow is a beautiful make up song, in which Swift takes responsibility for her role in arguments with breath-taking vocals.
Best Lyric: Why’d I have to break what I love so much?
Me! (ft. Brendan Urie)
The first single from the album also has the unfortunate status of being my least favourite on the album. Not because I don’t love it. Not because I think it’s too cheesy (there’s no such thing). The reason it falls to the bottom of my list is because on the album version of the song, the best lyric ever written- Hey kids! Spelling is fun! – has mysteriously disappeared! I will never stop being upset about it and have on multiple occasions shouted the lyric out in public, forgetting that I’m wearing headphones and everyone around me now thinks I’m crazy.
Best Lyric: …
It’s Nice To Have A Friend
The penultimate track is Swift’s most experimental offering on the album. It’s a stripped down track sampling vocals recorded by a group of music students from Regent Park School of Music in Toronto (who will benefit from royalties as well as a personal donation from Swift). There is a childlike innocence to the lyrics which reads like a coming of age love story.
Best Lyric: Rice on the ground looks like snow
The album comes to a close in the most absolutely perfect way. Daylight not only sums up the album through its sweet, hopeful attitude towards love, it also sums up Swift’s love story in its entirety. Through her music, Swift has shared every high and low, and on Daylight she realises that true love isn’t red (something she dedicated a whole album to) it’s golden. Lover opened by declaring indifference towards the haters- an attitude Swift maintains throughout whist also standing up for her values- and it ends with a declaration: I wanna be defined by the things that I love, not the things I hate, not the things I’m afraid of, I’m afraid of or the things that haunt me in the middle of the night. I, I just think that you are what you love.
Best Lyric: I once believed love would be (Burning red), But it’s golden
Lover is a beautiful, optimistic, honest album full of Swifts signature song writing prowess, and phenomenal vocals that have really grown since her debut album. It would be tempting to claim that Lover is Swift at her peak, that it will be the pinnacle of her career, but Swift isn’t finished yet and I’m really excited to see what she does next!
Featured Image by Eva Rinaldi