- 03 Sep 19
Lots to love on Tay-Tay's seventh.
Considering the fact that Taylor Swift has made a hugely successful career out of a fascination with endings, I suppose it’s rather fitting to begin the review of her seventh album with its final song. As the last notes of closer ‘Daylight’ ring out, Swift says (not sings….) “I wanna be defined by the things I love / Not the things I hate / Not the things I’m afraid of / Or the things that haunt me in the middle of the night”. These lyrics perfectly capture the spirit of Lover.
Recent records have seen the singer/songwriter embrace different themes, and sometimes personas. If previous LP Reputation cast her in the role of scorned pantomime villain, then on this latest release, she plays a loved-up spokesperson for the social media age. An album that may perhaps mark the end of phase two of the Taylor-verse (ie. the one where Swift transitioned from talented country queen to super slick, all-conquering pop star), if Lover does mark the closing of that chapter in her life, she’s certainly finishing it with a bang.
Before we get into the meat of the LP, let me first state that if you’re one of those people who like to pontificate about “real music” (which usually seems to refer to bands from decades ago), you’re better off reading something else. None of the 18 tracks on offer will change your opinion. Instead, Swift very much revels in the world and mythologies she’s built over the past 13-plus years, and fans of her various incarnations will find something to, well, love on the album.
‘Soon You’ll Get Better’, featuring the Dixie Chicks, is a welcome nod to her Nashville past, and a touching tribute to her mum and her battle with cancer. ‘Cruel Summer’ recalls the euphoric, ’80s-flavoured rush of 1989, while ‘The Man’ – which tackles gender imbalance – could almost be a spiritual heir to Speak Now’s ‘Mean’. As enjoyable as the knowing references to the past are, it’s the tracks that hint at her future which really give us something to sink our teeth into.
The saxophone-peppered slow jam, ‘False God’, draws on Prince and The Weeknd for inspiration, while ‘It’s Nice To Have A Friend’ will be dissected for years to come. Employing steel drums, a trumpet and a Canadian kids’ choir, the indie/alternative-minded song marks her biggest stylistic change since ‘Shake It Off’. Best of all is the title-track, which takes Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’ as a touchstone and sprinkles a little pop suss on top, creating one of the finest songs Swift has ever put her name to.
Granted, 18 tracks is a little too much (we could do without the twee ‘London Boy’ or the lukewarm ballad ‘Afterglow’), but in fairness, Taylor has never been one to do things by half-measures now, has she?