I’ve spent the last several days listening to Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album ‘Lover’ in different ways to figure out how I was going to write about it.
It’s always hard when so many people have a strong opinion one way or another about her and her music.
No matter what I say, people will disagree. But if I take Taylor’s approach to things and be honest, there are parts of this album I really love and parts I could do without.
Musically I don’t find ‘Lover’ follows any particular genre or style asides from “pop”. Most songs tend to set their own tone or pace and collectively don’t pull a strong theme.
Taylor has spoken about this album having a theme of romance but for some reason, it comes across as vague and as really only scratching the surface.
I find this strange as well since the majority of tracks have been written with Jack Antonoff, who typically adds a lot of depth to the songs he writes. It almost feels like they were looking for direction but just couldn’t decide where to land.
That being said, she has clearly dipped her toes into a multitude of genres to try and please all her fans (and perhaps the critics too).
Individually, songs stand out with strong lyrics, unique musical approaches and generally catchy hooks. Songs that really did something different and provided a strong emotional connection for me included ‘Cruel Summer’, ‘Afterglow’, and ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ (the latter with the Dixie Chicks). There is something quite real about them making them successful tracks.
Of course the strong empowerment messages appear too on songs like ‘You Need To Calm Down’ and ‘The Man’. Some of it works and some of it feels like a dated attempt to make a point.
The best kind of statement songs are the ones that aren’t obvious – they take a bit of thinking to get. ‘False God’ lyrically hits that spot for me.
‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Princess’ feels like a Lana Del Rey reject because it wasn’t sad enough; its inclusion stands out like a sore thumb. It’s a good song but it just doesn’t fit here. The same could be said for a few others I shall leave nameless.
At 18 tracks, this album is bloated. I know we haven’t heard from Taylor for a while, but there are a few songs that could have been left for a reissue, Japanese bonus track or passed on to other artists so the album could be more focused. The inclusion of 18 songs to me feels more like a playlist approach rather than using the album format to tell a story.
Is ‘Lover’ an improvement over ‘Reputation’? Definitely.
Is Taylor back to her ‘1989’ best? Not quite.
The lack of a strong concept is where I feel let down. There are great songs individually, but with a generic theme of “romance”, ‘Lover’ doesn’t quite work as an album and I am left wanting more.
VERDICT : 3/5.
MUST LISTEN : London Boy, Cruel Summer, Afterglow, Soon You Get Better.