With moody pop vibes and vulnerable lyrics, Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” shifts the direction of pop albums. Listening to “Reputation” feels like falling in love, and Swift creates one crazy ride.
Swift claims that “the old Taylor” is dead in “Look What You Made Me Do,” and maybe she is, because “Reputation” is edgier than previous albums. Swift has strayed away from her country roots and not much of them remain in “Reputation.” The album is laced with heavy bass beats to create catchy No. 1 single material, especially in “…Ready For It” and “Gorgeous.” Then again, at least five of the 15 songs have chart-topping potential.
Along with stunning beat drops, Swift contrasts hard-edged lyrics with airy falsettos and ‘80s synth-pop to illustrate her complicated history with love. With a never-ending medley of guitars, keyboards, techno beats, the tempos often match Swift’s singing, but sometimes conflict to compound onto the frustrated mood of certain songs. “Reputation” doesn’t appeal to just Swifties, but rather modern-pop lovers who enjoy a taste of every genre.
Although many of “Reputation’s” songs are upbeat, Swift shows her diversity with slow songs too. As the final song of the album, piano ballad “New Year’s Day” strips down the glitz and glam of fame and hones in on the little details appreciated by everyday people.
A highlight of Swift’s music is always her lyrical genius, which likely stems from her start in country music. In “Delicate,” Swift reflects on how she is troubled with love and its boundaries, as she questions “Is it cool that I said all that?/ Is it chill that you’re in my head?” The song also recounts detailed memories, tossing them out to make it feel like we’re reading Swift’s diary.
Swift’s romantic vulnerability is also the spotlight in the opening of “Don’t Blame Me,” saying love is her drug, something which she can’t control. Her blunt honesty is a gem in today’s pop albums, even if it is hidden in dozens of metaphors.
At the same time, Swift confides that her reputation isn’t at its best. In one of the album’s top hits, “Call It What You Want,” Swift begins with “My castle crumbled overnight,” yet, like many of the tracks, the song only starts there. The soft melody marks a point of reflection where Swift focuses on the present and less about what others think about her relationships.
Just like her music style, Swift’s content has evolved with her life. In “I Did Something Bad,” Swift elaborates on how she has played the playboys, whereas adolescent Taylor previously lamented about how she constantly got her heart broken. Slow song “Dress” opens up Swift’s sensual side, as the chorus repeats “Only bought this dress so you could take it off.”
Along with steamy songs, “Reputation” surprises with witty one-liners. “Gorgeous” details an all-too-perfect man, who Swift cannot quite wrap her head around, and then she concludes “Guess I’ll just stumble on home to my cats — Alone.”
Despite the many successes of “Reputation,” Swift’s angry bitter tracks fall short. “Look What You Made Me Do,” the album’s first single resembled breathy chanting and had a shallow melody, with a constant booming background bass in the chorus. Another misstep is in “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” While the track plays with fast and slow rhythms, it feels like a broken car — inconveniently stopping and starting.
“Reputation” balances all the components of a perfect album. Rightfully so, the album sold a million copies within four days of its release and is one of the best albums of the year.