Self-aware and melodramatic masterpiece “Reputation” proves Swift is in on the joke


Isaac Wert

Taylor Swift, following the monstrous success of her fifth album, “1989,” intentionally disappeared from the public eye. Now coming out of hibernation, Swift’s new masterpiece “Reputation” unshrouds her industrial synth-pop wonderland, redefining her artistry and personal narrative.

“Reputation’s” sonic pallet, for those familiar with her previous music, sounds like a mix of “Bad Blood’s” trap with “I Knew You Were Trouble’s” dubstep. “Reputation” is dark, atmospheric and thoroughly electronic.

The album’s lyrical content centers around two themes, love and revenge. While Swift’s lyrics are good, they are by no means her best work. “Reputation’s” libretto grows reductive and repetitive throughout the album’s 55-minute listen. By the album’s closing track, “Reputation” seems to have cycled through not only the same lyrics, but production.

Regardless, the album does host some incredible highlights. “I Did Something Bad” is a manic adrenaline rush, perfect for gearing up for an exercise, followed by “Don’t Blame Me,” a soulful ode to Swift’s love that best demonstrates her vocal and melodic talents. The third member of the trifecta, “Delicate,” is a hauntingly beautiful song that stands out upon first listen. These three tracks, coincidently in a row on the tracklist, are great candidates for future singles.

The worst songs on “Reputation” rely too heavily on production, and in doing so, lose touch with Swift’s unique voice, specifically the noisy “King of My Heart” and Chainsmokers-esque “Dancing With Our Hands Tied.”

Diving into electronic pop, Swift successfully rede- fines herself as an artist on “Reputation.” But behind the album’s blaring synths and piercing hi-hats lies the “Old Taylor” Swift infamously denounced on lead single “Look What You Made Me Do.” She may don a shield of trendy synthesizers, but the “Old Taylor” is far from “dead.” Swift’s personal narrative is expanding upon, not stomping on, her previous one, outgrowing her teenage heartbreak and settling into mature love. This personal evolution glows on “Reputation.”

The album reminds me of a rainy day. After a few lightning strikes near the beginning of the album, Swift settles into the storm, finding comfort and contentment in her shelter. The darkness of the production casts a cozy shadow over Swift’s romance, effectively contrasting “1989’s” ultraviolet pop.

While “Reputation” isn’t consistently and objectively great like “1989,” it has some undeniable highs that ultimately overshadow its mediocre lows. Swift took
a violent stab at the 2017 music scene, and “Reputation” hits the jugular, solidifying her place among pop’s superstars as a multi-talented, multi-faceted artist.

“Reputation:” ★★★★