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The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

“The Tortured Poets Department” is filled with hidden depth

Released on April 19, 2024, “The Tortured Poets Department” is Taylor Swift’s 11th studio album, composed of 31 different songs.

Taylor Swift is on top of the world. Truth be told, I was scared to hear this album. Not because I thought that I was going to feel heartbroken (I was worried about that too), but because I was worried it was going to be bad. When you’re on the top of the world, the only way to go is down.

However, it appears that at least one of my worries was put to rest. “The Tortured Poets Department” is far from inferior, but it is incredibly tragic. Swift’s 11th album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” was released on April 19 and is widely believed to be about Swift’s ex-boyfriend of six years, British actor Joe Alwyn.

I love this album because Swift was able to capture the heartbreak and loss that comes out of a breakup and translate it into art. The only thing that is lacking on the album is the production. I am disappointed by some of the songs simply because they sound too similar to tracks that already exist. However, just because the sound of the album isn’t unique, doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. It allowed a brighter spotlight on the story Swift was trying to tell. At times, I am a little scared by her soul-baring honesty about her break up with Alwyn, but at the same time blown away by the fact that I still want to hear more.

The album kicks off with “Fortnight,” featuring Post Malone. You wouldn’t think that hip-hop and rap singer Post Malone and popstar Swift would sound good together on a song, but I am pleasantly surprised. Malone echoes Swift’s dreamy vocals and adds depth to the song with another voice. I love “Fortnight” because of its steady background beat and beautiful lyrics. Swift does a fantastic job describing her internal struggles and how it seems like she is doing just fine from the outside.

Swift plays around with that idea on track 13, “I Can Do It With A Broken Heart.” She sings about piecing the broken shards of herself back together into a facade in front of her fans with a backdrop of glittering beats and an upbeat, peppy tempo. I find this song beautiful because it truly explores what was going on behind the scenes of Swift’s seemingly perfect life.

Not every single song is about heartbreak, my favorite one being, “But Daddy I Love Him.” The song reminds me of something she could have written years before, with its vivid storytelling and playful tone. Swift’s storytelling is what drew me to her in the first place, and the lyrics of loving someone despite what others think, combined with the dreamy guitar and drums that kick-in during the chorus, conjure images of Swift running away through a field with her love, leaving behind the “wine moms” and “saboteurs.” I got so excited when I listened to this song, I actually had to put on a floral dress and dance around in my room for five minutes and 40 seconds.

While I absolutely love the production of the album, it sounds incredibly similar to earlier works where she’s also collaborated with music producer Jack Antonoff. I want the album to produce a new, unique sound, but it doesn’t seem to be exploring any new and unique areas of music. Swift has grown comfortable with mid-tempo tracks that are starting to get repetitive. Specifically, the bonus 15 songs from “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” that Swift released at 2 A.M. of the same day, all blur together with only a few notable standouts. My favorite ones being “ThanK you aIMee” and “So High School” because of the fun, youthful imagery they conjure. However when I first listened to “The Anthology,” the bonus 15 songs seemed like the similar slow sad song that Swifties know all too well.

At this point, if you are not a true Swiftie, it would be easy to write off this album as basic or un-original on the first listen to it. But in my opinion, Swift’s music is something that grows on you as time goes on. So, while it may seem like she has written 31 tracks of the same song, if you take the time to listen to each of them and decode the easter eggs, you will find that the album has depth and feeling that you didn’t see at first.

Now, not everyone has time to go in depth and decode them, but Swift didn’t write this album for everyone. She wrote this album for herself. She told her fans that she needed to make this album because it helped her heal from her heartbreak. “The Tortured Poets Department” isn’t full of chart topping pop songs; it’s honest and crushing and heartbreaking and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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