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  • Writer's pictureMimi Thompson

Tortured Poet's Department Thoughts

Main Review:

Essentially, the album is about how love can make you feel crazy. The theme is very strong. The songs are extremely magnified interpretations of a heartbreak: feeling as if you can’t recognize yourself anymore, you want to die, you cannot think straight, and you feel trapped in a delusional spiral of anger, betrayal, bitterness, revenge, sadness, regret, and longing. Even the titles of the songs represent this delusion, with capitalizations, exclamation points and question marks, and hyperbolic proclamations. In this album, her lyrics are often messy, but sometimes eloquent and sophisticated, jarringly specific, and then vague and forgettable. The songwriting seems to have been separate from the sound creation, where for many songs, it feels as though any track could have been slapped under the words. I would encourage Taylor to be more innovative with her sound and perspectives by working with people other than Jack Antonoff (please!). Additionally, she could have released just 15 amazing songs, instead of 31 okay-fine ones. Despite my criticism, I do admit that the album is candid, and is a Swiftie’s dream: the clues she offers us in this 31-song anthology are never-ending glimpses and reaches into her cinematic universe and mind, that, as hard as I try, I cannot seem to stop thinking about anymore. (I do want to be clear, though, that this is not my favorite album and probably never will be).


The final song is meta-poetic— which is my favourite literary device— where Taylor Swift, or whoever the narrator is, reflects on the entire anthology of songs shared with us and says: I have experienced true love and true loss in my life, I have it written down because it is what I know, and I understand that it is now part of my life and my memories for time to come. But, here’s the thing: it’s just ONE part of the manuscript. I can keep writing. After all, “the future’s bright, dazzling.”

Once again, Taylor Swift reminds us that we all hold the pen, we all select the letters on the typewriters of our lives, ourselves. All’s fair in how you feel in love and poetry, but how you choose to be fair about your real life actions is the ultimate decision about your true character.

We will never know the intricate details of Taylor Swift’s personal relationships (and as a rule, we should not involve ourselves in other people’s lives too much anyways), but these songs give us insight into a heart that has felt the tortures, and the joys, of love. The heart in question may belong to a super popstar, but it might as well be the heart of a teenage girl or an older woman or anyone, really, who is crazy enough to choose love and all of its consequences, both hopeful and completely wretched.

(EDIT: I kinda love the album now, which we all knew would happen, but still stand by my original thoughts).

My album cover reenactment:

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