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The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

Welcome to the Neutral Poets Department

Taylor Swift released her eleventh studio album titled “The Tortured Poets Department” mid-April, which upon its release at midnight only lasted for two hours before Swift released the deluxe version of the album, “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology.”


As someone who enjoys Swift’s music, but was not the biggest fan of her last original album “Midnights,” I was excited to hear something different, and a little more melancholy than her last album. Most fans were also intrigued because upon the announcement of the album’s title, and Swift’s subsequent Instagram posts dropping subtle hints about the album, it felt very reminiscent of her “evermore” and “folklore” eras. For many of Swift’s fans, including me, getting this vibe off of her newest album felt like a triumphant return to the Swift we know and love, as “folklore” and “evermore” are some of Swift’s best work.


Another point of excitement for the album’s debut were the teased collaborations, revealed upon release to be “Fortnight” with Post Malone, and “Florida!!!” with Florence + The Machine. 


I was interested how these songs would go over, as it is reminiscent of the infamous Lana Del Rey collab with “Snow on the Beach” from her last album, of which Lana was nowhere to be found. And that is the case with Post Malone on “Fortnight.” He was there, no doubt, but I wish we heard more of him. But “Florida!!!” is great! I thought Florence + The Machines were very present and contributive to the song, making this song one of my favorites.


However, after “Florida!!!,” “But Daddy I Love Him” and “So Long, London,” most of the other songs–plug your ears if you’re a Swiftie–sounded the same. I have to specify that I’m really only talking about the original “The Tortured Poets Department,” not necessarily “The Anthology.” There is just something so odd about the original tracks. I appreciated the melancholy writing for the first few songs, but that sort of fizzled out afterwards. Every so often I would really love a song, then I would listen to the next couple and felt almost bored.


None of this is to say that Swift is not an incredible lyricist. You can say a lot of things about Swift, but that she can’t write a song is definitely not one of them. And I even think her lyricism is something that kept me, and many others, listening despite the disappointing instrumentals. She packs such a punch in her lyrics that even if the song as a whole feels a little boring, the story within the lyrics is still riveting.


As for “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology,” Swift struck gold. Say what you want about her choice to release the second part of the album only two hours after the original, but given that the songs on the deluxe album are arguably better than the original, I think it was the right choice.


Though all of these songs are a part of the same album family, somehow the deluxe version felt so much more alive. Not only did we get some more melancholic songs like “The Black Dog,” “The Prophecy” and “The Manuscript”, which I think are better than those on the original album, but Swift also dropped songs like “So High School” and “thanK you aIMee” which felt so exciting and different than her other tracks. There is something different about “The Anthology” that I believe led listeners to really enjoy the new album in its totality. The songs felt fresh and more vivid than the original album released two house previous


I think that this was a somewhat successful release for Swift. I think the original drop was maybe a little disappointing, but that the second release made up for it. It was definitely a balancing act for Swift, which leads me to declare “The Tortured Poets Department” somewhere in the neutral zone of Swift’s discography. By no means the worst, but by no means the best.

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