Taylor Swift’s all-conquering fifth album ‘1989’ saw her flying about as far away from the humble country stylings of her 2008 debut as she could get, but here on what’s sure to be 2018’s most pervasive album, she’s flown even further.
‘Reputation’ takes the knowing pop sass of the last LP and builds heavily on it – touching on predictable themes of love, lust, breakups and that tiresome business of being an A-lister. One can’t help but pine for the loss of the kind of romantic vulnerability and heartfelt ballads last seen on 2012’s ‘RED’, but on the other side of the coin it’s hard not to be impressed at just how much of a pop powerhouse Swift™ has become.
She takes no prisoners – herself included – and it’s these apparently genuine glimpses into her psyche that continue to prove so fascinating. “I never trust a playboy/but they love me,” she purrs egotistically on ‘I Did Something Bad’ – “So I fly ‘em all around the world/and let them think they saved me” (LOL Kasian de Luh, Tom Hiddleston/Calvin Harris etc). Taken alone statements like this might come off as a tad arrogant, but later, on the confessional ‘Getaway Car’, she admits “Us traitors never win.” No-one’s perfect I guess, even global mega stars, but honesty sure can be profitable when all your old boyfriends are also a bunch of A-listers.
Musically though, ‘Reputation’ falls short – most likely thanks to those meddling marketing dudes and focus groups trying to ensure the world’s biggest crossover star continues to grow that fan base. Swift’s strength has always been her own songwriting – granted it’s usually augmented by other writers – but still there’s no disguising her knack for a tune, but here it’s mostly drowned out by all the noise designed to make sure each single stays top of the pops.
‘1989’ was always going to be hard to beat, and the new material is not her best work by a long stretch, but its good enough to ensure her reputation stays intact. Endless list of exes and watered down songwriting notwithstanding, Swift continues to be a genuine role model – rightfully included as one of the ‘Silence Breakers’ in Time’s collective ‘Person of the Year’ honours. Like her or not, she’s gonna be impossible to ignore in 2018.
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Taylor Swift | Reputation