Reputation: Will Gompertz reviews Taylor Swift's new album ★★★☆☆

From BBC - November 11, 2017

After months of build-up and publicity, Taylor Swift's sixth studio album finally arrived on Friday. Will Gompertz was Ready For It.

We know Taylor Swift is shamelessly light-fingered when it comes to appropriating her musical influences. It's one of her gifts, to take the best of the rest and make it her own.

She's at it again on Reputation, so much so you could turn the listening of it into a parlour game this Christmas, playing spot the riff or reference.

The sharp-eared might think they can discern a Madonna inflection, a Lorde chord, or a Lily Allen phrase. Maybe even a Yazoo beat, a Billy Joel build, or Eminem's syntax. Right Said Fred is in there for sure, as is - possibly - a nod to Laurie Anderson's O Superman.

There are literary references too. Charles Dickens, F Scott Fitzgerald and - perhaps unknowingly - Kurt Vonnegut, all make fleeting appearances.

Swift and her producers Shellback, Max Martin and Jack Antonoff have blended them all together like masterchefs, serving up an album of perfectly formed, clinically produced, contemporary pop songs.

Catchy hooks, sing-a-long choruses, and an electro-synth driven dynamism underpin an album, which unusually and impressively, is greater than the sum of its parts.

All the songs are good - if simple. Some are great, such as Gorgeous.

But taken as a piece, as a cycle of songs that tell an overarching story of a singer-songwriter growing up, getting wise, and taking control of her life, it bears comparison to Adele's 21 as a coming of age album by an artist giving full vent to her talents.

It's still all about boys, of course. But there's a refreshing bite to her lyrics. "I do not regret it one bit because he had it coming," she sings in her revenge song I Did Something Bad.

And, "I do not like your little games... no, I do not like you," in the multi-persona Look What You Made Me Do, in which she announces the "old Taylor is dead".


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