The Critics Corner | Albums

Reputation Latest album goes further and deeper into pop territory; showcases new sounds, some misses, mostly hits
Kelsea Ballerini
Alan HopAlbum name: Reputation
Label: Big Machine
Release Date: November 10, 2017
Rating: -- 3.5 out of 5

Review written by: Amaris Rodriguez
It is hard to recall the last time the release of an album was as highly anticipated as Taylor Swift's sixth studio album, Reputation. The album was released on November 10th and had the entire world talking and taking notice of Swift and her return into the limelight.

As the first single dropped, "Look What You Made Me Do" became an instant chart-topping hit from its released and included the now famous line that sets the tone for the entire production of Reputation. Swift's now infamous line, "the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now…why? Oh ‘cause she's dead," let the world know that the Taylor that we grew to know and love is now gone and in her place there is a brand new Taylor, one who does not care what people think of her and loves 80's synthetic pop.

While the first single tried to prepare fans for the new album, the first track "…Ready For It?" is asks the million dollar question. Are fans ready for this new Taylor? With lyrics that sing "baby let the games begin" repeatedly, Swift kicks off the album with a song that immediately introduced an electronic production sound that is more prominent than in her past albums. The second promotional single released from Reputation, "…Ready For It?" is amongst the top tracks, making sure the album kicks off strong.

Controversy seems to follow Swift and like previous albums, she uses those situations to inspire the songwriting aspect of her albums. Reputation plays host to songs that will have fans trying to decode the lyrics to figure out who inspired those cleverly written lyrics. "This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" is amongst those tracks and hints at a famous rapper as the soul inspiration.

Swift uses this album to bring light to her perspective on the media drama that has surrounded her this past year, and while listeners might have turned on her, "I Did Something Bad" will have you switching sides and cheering her on once again. Lyrics such as, "if a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing," will be sung at full lung capacity by anyone who has ever been wronged, like Swift suggests she was. The track uses a contagious beat drop to set the mood for the moody lyrics to take center stage. Amongst the strongest lyrically written tracks, "I Did Something Bad" is infectious and will definitely be a top favorite.

Since Swift had clearly stated that the old Taylor is dead, her new album has a completely different sound than those previously released. The new 80's synthetic pop sound dominates most of the album, including "So It Goes," and "Delicate." While these new found sound works well with some songs, such as "Getaway Car" and "Dancing With Our Hands Tied," with other tracks such as "Delicate" and "King of My Heart," the music overpowers the lyrics, causing them and the message they are trying to portray, to get lost amongst production.

"Call It What You Want," arguably the strongest lyrical song, which deals with a romantic relationship, holds poetic lyrics such as "window boarded up after the storm, he built a fire just to keep me war." Swift uses her songwriting ability to describe the quality of the relationship and how much it meant to her during the hard times she was going through. While the track does have a strong electric sound, it is perfectly combined with equally strong lyrics to make a perfect song.

"Call It What You Want" is not alone in the quality department. "Dress," which is also Swift's more sexual song to date, is a top contender for the title of best song on the album. While it might take some fans a little bit to wrap their heads around her new sexy persona, Swift fans are refreshed by the emerging sound of a singer who is growing up along with us.

A surprise to listeners, "Don't Blame Me" and "End Game" bring out a sound that was unexpected. While "Don't Blame Me" has a soulful Swift meets Hozier vibe, "End Game" showcases Swift's rapping ability, which is still highly debatable. Regardless, both songs add diversity to a strongly synthesized and highly produced album.

While a bit out of place, "New Year's Day," ends Reputation with a piano track, which lets the focus be primarily on the lyrics. The song, while it does consist of a pretty melody and equally pretty lyrics, is not comparable to Swift's past tracks, which might just be the point.

As the media concentrated all its attention on her in the past year, Swift turned her feelings and sorrows into fifteen tracks that captured in every possible way her emotions and thoughts. Reputation is Swift's way of speaking her truth and crushing enemies at the same time. Her words have always carried weight, as it can't be denied that she is a talented songwriter and Reputation, while a completely different sound, still conveys the same amount of talent her previous records had.
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