Taylor Swift – reputation // Album Review

Taylor is BACK!!! After teasing her fans with two singles with impressive music videos each, and two more promotional singles that left us in awe – she dropped her latest album, “reputation”, this Friday and so, here is our review!

1. – …Ready For It? 

Dan: Starting an album with a song called “…Ready For It?” is an extremely sassy way of introducing the listener to the new material – it either feels prepotent or like a genius idea. I feel like this song sits in the middle. Taylor tries to show a gritty, more industrial face whilst still having strong influences from her previous work in 1989 and Red. The heavily compressed bass synths and dirty beats do help Taylor in putting forward this new ‘persona’, but this sort of production is not going to age very well. I think that the song itself is too short – everything carries on really fast and there isn’t much time to actually listen to what is going on. And example of this; the bridge coming out of nowhere, and although it is a really catchy melody, there could be much better ways of introducing it. There are many flaws in the way things are presented, but Mrs. Swift has done it again; her ssssongwriting is as catchy as ever. 9/10

Alex: …Ready For It?” was a very bold choice to begin Taylor Swift’s latest record reputation; its strong synths and heavy beats demonstrate a darker and newer vision of the famous singer that “Look What You Made Me Do” did not fully show to the general public. The track opened up about a new relationship, so it was seemingly relatable to many at first listen as the beginning of a relationship has a great amount of mystery and hope. It honestly is one of my favorite tracks on the album, the beat along with the production is so fresh and new to the ear from first listen. The chorus isn’t anything deep, but delivers what a good pop track should. 9.5/10

Lily: While it wasn’t my favorite sound at its release, it works really well as an album opener. The way the song kicks in so perfectly lets you know that what you’re about to hear is a BIG change in direction for the lovely Miss Swift. The melody in the verses could have been much better, it feels a little lackluster there – her ‘rapping’ sounds a bit basic at some points. Nonetheless, that chorus is still as catchy as it can get and the bridge is quite nice as well. 7/10

2. – End Game (ft. Ed Sheeran, Future)

Dan: When I first listened to this song, my immediate thought was; “who arranged this song?”. Verses and choruses are not structured nor produced in a pop hit way. I was confused by the random melodies going on, and by that watered down excuse of a chorus in particular. On the other hand, every sound is exactly where it should be in the mix – the drums, mellow synths and voice all blend perfectly. As much as this song is not precisely the catchiest she has written, Taylor delivers what is probably the grower of the record – it takes roughly three listens to make sense out of the mess that Future and Ed’s interventions are, but after that it is extremely enjoyable. It’s an interesting move from her part, however it would make much more sense to be placed further down in the tracklist. The song is mainly about how she wants to be someone’s ‘end game’ – the lover her partner settles for. Overall, a great song. 8/10 

Alex: At first listen, “End Game” is nothing special. It is definitely a new sound for Taylor, but not in the same light as other tracks such “…Ready For It?” Giving off a pop/rock flair, the record doesn’t have much substance, and Taylor’s auto-tuned vocal effect does not help the overall sound of the song. Future does not give any pure help to make the track any better, while Ed Sheeran was the biggest high of the song in my opinion. Most of the track is very repetitive, and it seems as a way for Taylor to appeal to somewhere in between a hip hop along with pop audience. The phrase “Big reputation” was repeated numerous times, and it seemingly shows Taylor’s presence in the media. The more you listen to the track, the catchier it becomes, and that definitely makes up for much of what’s lacking in the track. 7/10

Lily: This song was the biggest surprise of the album. How was anyone supposed to know a Taylor Swift hip hop song featuring Ed Sheeran and Future would be anything more than listenable? The 3-verse hip hop structure works so well here. On a TAYLOR SWIFT song. Yes, the “You Belong With Me” girl made a GOOD hip hop song. I need to go lie down. I’m taking off points for Future’s below-the-average part, because Ed’s is good and obviously, Taylor’s is the best. 8/10

3. – I Did Something Bad

Dan: There are some trends that should be left in the past. Just like we left behind songs at 128 bpm, Dr. Luke’s basic productions and all those awful trends from 2012 – so should Taylor do with the backing track of “I Did Something Bad”. Being “I Knew You Were Trouble”s little sister, it is bound to be an overly and unnecessarily compressed mess and a half. As much as the build up to the chorus is magnificent and sounds like what a proper introduction song should sound like, everything after is just a complete disaster. Her high, screamy voice and the annoying melody ruin the song completely. One of the things that destroy the chorus is that random bass, that even though it is supposed to be an edgy way of adding swing and life to the track, it ends up sucking any kind of rhythm that it could have. It is worth noting the bridge, which is probably one of the best moments in reputation – I give her that. I think the title is very fitting to the song, almost as if she was talking about it! 4/10

Alex: After listening to this track over and over again, it acts as the real first track of reputation. The ominous instrumental gives off such a modern and fresh vibe to Taylor’s discography, and her play with synth driven electro-pop is really shown. The iconic line coming from the chorus, “They say I did something bad, why does it feel so good?” showed listeners a darker side of Taylor that revealed that she enjoys breaking the rules, she’s not afraid to tarnish her reputation. Another true change is shown in the track as listeners know this isn’t the old Taylor, I picked up on it instantly. Listeners know this song is meant to be apart of the new era, her true revenge towards whoever the track is about was complimented by the lovely instrumental that flowed with Taylor’s edited vocals. This was a huge step in a great direction for Taylor, and I was very impressed. 10/10 

Lily: This is the best “bad Taylor” song on the album. The lyrics in the verses, chorus, and bridge are ALL well written, tell a good, compelling story – and most importantly, are fun to listen to. The production compliments the lyrics so well too, the bass comes right in the moments that it is needed, just as the second chorus comes and smashes me like a ton of bricks. Something ’bout this song makes me feel like a “Dangerous Woman”. 10/10

4. – Don’t Blame Me

Dan:Don’t Blame Me” is a very pleasant song that benefits from being placed right after the ear-drilling mess that “I Did Something Bad” is. A nice, subtle, electronic tribute to “Take Me To Church” by Hozier showing Swift’s most elegant side. At times the production reminds me of “Power” by her friend Katy Perry. A great highlight of the song is the syncopated wobbly bass that blends with Taylor’s voice to produce an earworm of a pre-chorus. The slight vibrato in her voice at certain points of the song elevate the feeling to a complete new level. As for the lyrics, she seductively sings about toying with older guys, taking the dominating role in the relationship. Sexy Taylor at its finest, something completely new but expected at the same time. 9/10

Alex: After “I Did Something Bad”, “Don’t Blame Me” is a nice break from the first 3 tracks the embraced the high energy, synth driven side of the album. The track describes the manipulative and abusive side of love and a relationship, and the production behind has its up and downs, which clearly accentuate the thick atmosphere of the song. Overall, the track is fine, nothing too special. The song does a good job again to symbolize the new image of Taylor; the production has dark-pop influences and is lyrically dark as well. I was a bit shocked how early it come on the album, but it made an immense statement that was important to her. 8/10

Lily: It sounds a bit like “Take Me To Snurch“, which would be perfectly fine if that song in particular was not overplayed by literally every single radio station and TV channel in the world. I just can’t shake the familiarity I get when I listen to it that makes me feel like I’ve heard it too many times despite having listened to it only thrice. The buildup does its trick, slowly but steadily the music moves from one scenario to another, and the vocal effects work really well on Taylor’s voice, so I can’t fault it TOO much. But still. 5/10

5. – Delicate

Dan: The tropical house trend has become extremely tiring – every single singer out there is trying mellow sounds and minimalist instrumentation that give the impression of being in the Caribbean despite being nothing like music there. However, Taylor makes use of this sound to bring on a song that makes you dance very slowly and carefully, fearing that you may break the soundscape she builds throughout the track. Never unleashing its full potential and teasing the listener with exquisite build ups, “Delicate” is one of the best songs in reputation. Masterfully expressing the emotion of wanting to grow a relationship and not mess things up in a, well, delicate way. She does not sell out to a bombastic chorus, she is focused in the delivery and the message, which makes everything ten times better. 10/10

Alex: Delicate” continues to bring a new style to reputation that fans had not seen Taylor take on before. Beginning the track, Taylor’s vocoder effect made the track have a more emotional vibe that demonstrated Taylor’s laid back to way to begin a relationship towards a new lover. The faint backing vocals help give the song more than just one layer, and is produced to demonstrate that. The song is very beautiful, but especially took myself a long time to enjoy. I think it is a great track, and is in the top of the middle pack. The track did a perfect job of not ‘overdoing it’. Taylor kept the record on the down-low to keep the authentic emotion. 9/10

Lily: The best song on the album. It’s such a sweet low-key song with a gorgeous melody and beautiful vocal effects on that super nice pre-chorus. The verse’s melody has been stuck in my head since the second I heard it for the first time. The pacing and the melody perfectly encapsulate the excitement and anxiety of having a new crush, along with the well-crafted lyrics. And it’s just so PRETTY!  – 10/10

6. – Look What You Made Me Do

Dan: I would like to see where those who hated Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too” chorus are now. Making use of an industrial, TR909 driven track, Taylor shuts down everyone who has ever had a feud with her. Just like she said some time ago; if you make a joke about yourself, you protect yourself from others making fun about you. This is exactly what she accomplishes with “Look What You Made Me Do“. Jack Antonoff did an amazing job with this, leaving the exact headroom to squeeze in an extremely tight drum beat. If we were to rank Taylor’s most badass songs, “Look What You Made Me Do” would be at the top by far. If we take into consideration its colossal music video – hands down one of the songs of 2017. 10/10

Alex: Brilliant. This track is the perfect pop song. From first listen, I knew this was a hit, as well as a perfect comeback. Brought along with eventually an iconic music video, “Look What You Made Me Do” isn’t only extremely catchy, but is just as problematic at the same time. The song’s production does everything spot on, as after the the slow beginning verse continues with a dark beat, the pre-chorus bring the song into another dimension. The lyric “Honey I rose up from the dead I do it all the time” shows a carefree Taylor that knows that even after all this drama she will come back to own the charts, radio stations and award shows as it is usual in her, she really is unstoppable in this industry. 10/10

Lily: This song is such a mess musically. This is not something you hear these days, we are no longer in the “throw everything in the mix” stage of pop music production, so this was certainly a surprise. At first listen, it was annoying and messy, making it unlistenable. Now, it’s the best kind of annoying and messy and is EXTREMELY fun to re-listen to. The “I’m Too Sexy” sample is still the best part, it’s great how it builds up so much in the pre-chorus and then just hits you with that almost non-chorus, MASTERPIECE. 8/10

7. – So It Goes…

Dan: At this point in the record, Taylor starts to sound a bit like Halsey in hopeless fountain kingdom; the industrial sounds, slight artistic use of autotune, hip hop influences… This midtempo track, although quite lowkey sounding, is a great example of nice gritty pop. Nothing is out of place, however even though it ticks all the boxes for a massive tune, there’s something about it that makes “So It Goes…” a complete nonevent within the album. Perhaps it is too generic, perhaps it is just the average chorus. Still alright though. 6.5/10

Alex: So It Goes…” is one of the most symbolic tracks on the album to represent its entire purpose as a whole. Taylor’s voice is distorted once again, and gives off a robotic sense to the listener. The chorus goes off, and does a nice job of letting a darker, deep song be a semi-banger at the same time. This song is great, and fits well in the middle of the album, it seems to be a turning point, as most of the tracks after “So It Goes…” seem to be driven in a more generic-mainstream pop. 7.5/10

Lily: This song feels like it’s trapped between the two halves of the album, never fully embracing one sound. The lyrics and the slow pace make it sound like it’s supposed to be chill, but the chorus is too aggressive for it to go with the more reserved part of reputation.  6/10

8. – Gorgeous

Dan: One of the unwritten rules of music is to never start a song with a toddler’s voice. Another is to make the backing track sound like some sort of cheap iPhone ringtone. Also, using a triangle before the chorus makes songs sound like a lullaby or Kidz Bops version of the proper track. However, reputation‘s attempt at recreating “Blank Space” is not a complete disaster – it actually is a really pleasant song. Clearly Taylor was sort of inspired to write the song, but it didn’t quite end up being an organic one. It feels as if it was built by bits of catchy melodies, all stitched together creating quite a fake flow. Despite all these missteps, “Gorgeous” grows to be a cute highlight in all the intensity of the album. After all, we all deserve our childish moments. 9/10

Alex: Against popular belief, I think this song is a great addition to the album. For a change, it seemed like Taylor needed a song that wasn’t so deep. The vintage-esque style of production makes the song seem surprisingly recent. Many people originally complained about Taylor’s discography being filled with lame love songs, while she was able to turn “Gorgeous” into a lighthearted banger that preaches how a man so attractive can bring along relationship problems to herself in the first place. Overall, I think this track was placed correctly, the 2nd half of the album seemed to focus on more lighthearted topics and this was a nice introduction.  9/10 

Lily: Cute silly fun! The bubbly, warm production sounds nice. The sounds of the synths intertwine, forming a bouquet of innocence decorated with small 80s details here and there such as subtle arpeggios that elevate the production of the song to another level of cuteness. The chorus is just the right amount of explosive, and the lyrics are relatable. 7/10

9. – Getaway Car

Dan: If there is something Jack Antonoff knows how to do is to model landscapes in the mix. Taylor’s voice has never been any better produced. Her songwriting skills are once again the centerpiece – however it becomes very apparent that “Out Of The Woods” was her favourite song off 1989. The fact that it sounds like a second version of the song makes “Getaway Car” slightly less enjoyable than what it could’ve been had “Out Of The Woods” not existed. A masterpiece nevertheless. The lyrics are again an important point; she sings about a relationship meant to fail in a romantic way, using countless references to two thieves. 10/10

Alex: Getaway Car” helped Taylor use a getaway car as a metaphorical reference to display a lover using this symbol to get out of an unsuccessful relationship. The low-key instrumental features very light elements that make the track very airy. Taylor’s voice truly takes over as Taylor describes herself to find an excuse to get out a relationship. Taylor and her lover and equal to two prisoners, in this case, and they’re trying to use this car to escape the jail of their relationship. The minuscule beat along with Taylor’s beautiful vocals throughout the record make the track out to be one of the best on the album. 10/10

Lily: What time is it? I guess it’s time-to-cry-o’clock. Sometimes Taylor expresses her emotions in such an explicit way in her songs, but does so subtly at the same time, full of metaphors that reveal the whole scene piece by piece. This is one of those, Taylor describes a relationship she wants to leave in such a way that the listener can relate completely – even if it has never been in one! 10/10

10. King Of My Heart

Dan: This song is full of contrasts; in one hand there’s the industrial sounds she has been using all throughout the record, and in the other the melodies and lyrics are probably one of her happiest in a long time. It took 9 songs for Taylor to finally deliver an innocent love anthem. The lyrics, supported by a strategically placed vocoder, build a larger-than-life world in which she sings her lungs out to her newly found lover. I am not quite sure why she has retired acoustic guitars from her music – they fit perfectly in the dirty, muddy theme she is going for as they provide an organic foundation to more futuristic sounding instruments to really shine. In “King Of My Heart” she briefly makes use of acoustic guitars, much to the benefit of the song. This, coupled with its absolutely massive chorus, makes the song one of the best ones in reputation. 10/10

Alex: King Of My Heart” embodies Taylor originally feeling as a confident woman, when suddenly a new man comes into her life making her question what the best option is for herself. The beginning of the track is very “cute”, displaying a new love story. Once the pre-chorus begins, the synth and heavy beats take over the vocals, but the more you listen, the more you can deal with it. The pre-chorus returns to the beautiful, simple production from the beginning of the track which included some synth and guitar, while Taylor serenades her lover who is the one she was always waiting for. Throughout the track, Taylor continues to describe how this man changed her viewpoint on love and how perfect their relationship was in the moment. The instrumental, along with the meaning of the track, is not too deep, and is overall another great pop song on the record. It is a very solid addition to what the new Taylor is. 9.5/10

Lily: My favorite type of song is the kind that gets better as it goes along. It means there’s something to look forward to until the very end and it keeps you on your toes by surprising you with new things as the song goes on. It also means the song gets more fun to listen to with each listen. On first listen, it might feel like an 8/10, but by my 10th, I was head over heels. 10/10



11. – Dancing With Our Hands Tied

Dan: It is difficult to write down my feelings towards this “song” in a non-explicit way. One of her cheapest sounding songs ever – the Chainsmokers’ synths and drums are simply unlistenable. But checking who produced and co-wrote it, it is no surprise that it’s an awful song! The new Taylor can’t come to the phone right now, why? Because she’s stuck in 2016 when Closer was a hit! 0/10

Alex: While the track doesn’t have much meaning sonically in the lyrical aspect, the instrumental makes up for it to my ears. The instrumental instantly reminds me of “Disconnect” by Clean Bandit and Marina and The Diamonds, as the genre is EDM. There is not much else to say, except the drop really does go off. I think taking this direction in the track was definitely a good choice on her part, it added yet another new sound to reputation that wasn’t fully expected by listeners, as “Look What You Made Me Do” and “…Ready For It?” followed the guidelines into being more of a dark-pop track. I can understand why were people disappointed though! Poor Dan btw. 8.5/10

Lily: I really like the verses and what they’re doing there, but I haven’t quite gotten used to that chorus… 7/10  

12. – Dress

Dan: It seems like Mrs. Swift starts to run out of ideas, relying on something that could easily fit in Melodrama by Lorde. However, it isn’t that much of a bad song. Reminds me of 90s melodies and does add a je ne sais quoi to reputation, perhaps it is supposed to be the slow sexy jam… but I don’t quite enjoy it overall although it probably has its fans. 4.5/10

Alex: The song is a bit of a snoozefest, and I don’t have much to say about it. It definitely could have been produced differently, because Taylor’s vocals fail to excite or impress me. Taylor seems to have a dress fetish, and that’s completely fine. It is clear though that this song is “the one” that is sexually driven by Taylor herself, and shows her sexual interests in the limelight. 4/10

Lily: This is the anti-”King Of My Heart”; it starts out sounding like it’s going to be a nice fun listen-through and then it doesn’t really go anywhere. Very anti-climactic. 5/10



13. – This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Dan: If “Dress” started sounding like something from Melodrama, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”s verse goes further and is probably the closest thing I’ve ever heard to “Royals”, by Lorde again. Everything in the song is great – except for that annoying chorus and that silly bridge. It sounds an awful lot like something AJR would release. The piano is incredibly irritating as well – you can never mix a hammered high piano chord progression with shouty voices. One can easily tell that she has been influenced by Jack Antonoff’s latest Bleachers album in the way she sings “nice things” at the end of each chorus, again an extremely irritating singing. Overall, really hard to listen to – it would have be much better had she only chosen a less childish melody for the chorus! 2/10 

Alex: It is hard to comment on this track while keeping a straight face, because the meaning behind it seems so childish and drama-filled at the same time. Sure, it acts a cute and nostalgic half-banger, but nevertheless does a bad job at impressing listeners with her progression in music. You can clearly tell that the lyrics behind this track are as shady as possibly. Taylor is toasting to her best friends, while she says goodbye to the ones who did her wrong, “locking the gates”. I can’t hate this song, it’s so good overall! I think this track was actually great at taking some satire and making it comedic while being just as shady at the same time! 6/10

Lily: I love petty Taylor. I also love Jay Z. There’s a reference in here that’s most likely about Jay Z. I’m happy. For real though, petty Taylor SHINES here. You wronged her (you know who you are) and you are NOT getting her forgiveness. That cackle in the bridge is one of my favorite things on this album. All of that being said, I can see this getting obnoxious in the long run and I hope it doesn’t become a single. 8/10

14. – Call It What You Want

Dan: After a few songs with deplorable productions, Taylor finally puts forward something that sounds like 2017. Despite being incredibly boring and falling flat in the first couple of listens, now I can’t stop singing along to the chorus – which took me a few plays to actually find! The sultriness in her voice during this song helps to start wrapping up the album and then she proceeds to knock down all of her remaining haters once again with her careless lyrics. She takes the drama, puts it in a bag and throws it to the side; she’s here for her lover and no one else – which is funny considering the song that came before. 10/10

Alex: Call It What You Want” has production that is more similar to tracks such as “Delicate” and “Gateway Car”. Overall, the track is a great addition to the ending of the album. It adds a very calm tone to what was going to be a synth infused album. The lyrics of the track describe another relationship of Taylor while the instrumental gives the track a theme of fantasy as she puts her significant other as a “daydream” and “jet stream”. Taylor ends the track with some beautiful backing vocals that truly show some of the evolution Taylor had been able to create. The song is great and doesn’t really take or give anything too groundbreaking to the overall piece, but was something needed to give the listeners a break from so much over-production. 9/10

Lily: The production on this is very pretty and the melody is weirdly catchy for how chill it is. It’s kind of flat and on first listen, a non-event, but in the context of the whole album, it works much better. The lyrics are quite nice and the chorus is a bit more pronounced than I had originally thought it was. Overall, worth it. 8/10

15. – New Year’s Day

Dan: A traditional way to finish an album? Yes. An amazing way to finish an album? YES! Taylor saves her mellow piano ballad for the very last moment, leaving the listener with a happy-but-melancholic feeling. The lyrics are probably her best in a long time, if not ever. Using a New Year’s party as a metaphor of holding onto memories, just as one remembers the night before on New Year’s Day and wanders around the house with a slight emptiness feeling – and that’s exactly how the listener feels after the trip that reputation is. 10/10

Alex: Another album ending with a ballad? Well – good thing it was a great ballad! This was definitely the most laid back track of the album, and it needed to be placed at the end it. This track is the one that also truly showed Taylor’s evolution, she is as mature as she has ever been. Taylor isn’t just some cute pop-girl, she’s had ups and downs in her career, but this track breaks down the entire purpose of those moments. “New Year’s Day” takes place in a time of new beginnings and reveals Taylor vulnerably reflecting on her past. I don’t think anything is wrong about this track, holding onto the memories as they hold you concluded the album with the message that states – no matter how hard you try to distance yourself from your true persona, those memories will always be with you. Great job Ms. Swift, I’m speechless. 10/10



Lily: A very pretty, somewhat emotional song that I know I will get into some other time, but now is NOT that time. 7/10

Conclusion

reputation is Taylor Swift’s sixth album. She has gone a long way ever since she dropped her first a bit more than a decade ago. Taylor the singer, the songwriter, the lover, the innocent, the psycho, the obsessed, the beautiful girl, the flat girl, the awkward girl, the basic white girl, the drama queen, the snake, the cheater, the liar, the fake, the manipulative, there’s so many Taylor’s that we think about when her name pops out in a conversation or when there’s some news about her. In the end, the only Taylor that is real is Swift – that is the real meaning behind reputation. Throughout the album we get to see a slideshow of every single Taylor we’ve met so far, but after all, they’re simply images of her that she has decided to share with the world. reputation may not be her greatest album – we know she’s capable of writing much better songs, but this time it wasn’t the songs that mattered. It is the growth that she had to show, 1989 was a massive record but wasn’t very mature, unlike reputation, where we can find everything from a sexy Taylor (“Don’t Blame Me“) for the very first time to some of her best lyrics ever (“New Year’s Day“). Overall the good outweighs the bad by far, becoming a record that requires several listens to really click and make you realise how great it is. A new chapter has started in the successful career of Taylor Swift.

Dan : 75%

Alex: 85%

Lily: 77%