‘Tortured poet’ Taylor Swift exorcises demons with second album

Published April 20, 2024
Taylor Swift poses on the red carpet during the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in this Feb 4 file photo.—Reuters
Taylor Swift poses on the red carpet during the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in this Feb 4 file photo.—Reuters

LOS ANGELES: Taylor Swift surprised fans with her new record The Tortured Poets Department on Friday, revealing it was a double album featuring songs about heartbreak and a period described as “the saddest story” of the singer’s life.

Swift’s 11th studio album, featuring 16 tracks, was released at midnight and two hours later she revealed a second instalment with 15 more songs.

“I’d written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you,” Swift wrote on Instagram.

“Poets” comes 18 months after 2022’s Midnights. Swift will also release a video for the new album’s first single, a collaboration with Post Malone called Fortnight.

The 34-year-old has been crossing music industry milestones and boosting local economies with her record-breaking Eras Tour, which resumes in Paris next month.

Time magazine named Swift its 2023 Person of the Year, citing her musical accomplishments and influence on everything from pop culture to voter registration.

A description of Poets on Instagram said it was “an anthology of new works that reflect events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time _ one that was both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure”.

“This period of the author’s life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up,” it added.

“There is nothing to avenge, no scores to settle once wounds have healed. And upon further reflection, a good number of them turned out to be self-inflicted.”

The post also suggested that Swift used the writing process to heal.

“This writer is of the firm belief that our tears become holy in the form of ink on a page. Once we have spoken our saddest story, we can be free of it,” it said.

The Instagram post did not say which events Swift was referring to. Fans have speculated she was writing about her relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn. The pair split in April last year after six years of dating.

A representative for Alwyn could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reviews of Poets were mostly positive, with Rolling Stone calling the music “wildly ambitious and gloriously chaotic”.

Billboard said the album was “extreme in its emotions and uninterested in traditional hits; not everyone will love it, but the ones who get it will adore it fiercely”.

Other critics were not as impressed. Britain’s NME described it as “surprisingly flat and, at times, cringeworthy”.

Lindsay Zoladz of the New York Times praised several tracks, but said the best ones may be obscured by the volume of new songs.

“Great poets know how to condense, or at least how to edit,” Zoladz said, adding that the album’s sharpest moments “would be even more piercing in the absence of excess”.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2024

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