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Some Other Critics Didn’t Love Taylor Swift’s New Album Either – Here’s Why!

Over the past few days we’ve seen some of the ugliest side effects of fans’ devotion to Taylor SwiftPaste magazine literally kept its music critic’s name secret because they were afraid of the danger the poor person might be in for trashing her new album. They didn’t think The Tortured Poets Department was good, now they have to be protected like a juror from Trump’s scary followers? That’s awful.

The truth is, not everyone is always going to agree on art — and that’s OK! In fact, plenty of reviewers weren’t just gushing about TTPD. Several gave it mixed or even mixed-negative reviews overall.

Related: Taylor Shouts Out The Most Positive Reviews

We thought maybe in light of the theoretical response to that one harsh review, we’d take a look at some of the others to prove that point. So what did some critics take issue with? Let’s take a look:


NME gave the album 3 out of 5 stars, calling it “a rare misstep” for Tay. Ouch, right?

Reviewer Laura Molloy calls TTPD “a knottier, if inferior, sequel to Midnights” which is “mostly devoid of any noticeable stylistic shift or evolution.” She writes:

“It mostly descends into a monochromatic palette, existing in the same Jack Antonoff-branded synth pop as Midnights, yet struggling to capture any of its brightness.”

Molloy makes a point of praising Taylor’s lyrics generally before says this album bucks the trend and “delivers some of her most cringe-inducing lines yet.” She calls out the title track’s already infamous:

“You smoked then ate seven bars of chocolate / We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist / I scratch your head, you fall asleep / Like a tattooed golden retriever.”

She didn’t even like what Taylor was doing with But Daddy I Love Him, singling out the lines:

“These people only raise you to cage you… God save the most judgemental creeps/Who say they want what’s best for me”

We imagine those are plenty of fans’ favorites on the whole damn album! Like we said, people are going to disagree on art! As it ever was. And again, that’s OK!


Pitchfork is always hard to please, so 6.6 out of 10 may feel like condemning Taylor as mediocre — but it’s not shocking either. Writer Olivia Horn blames the “burden of expectation” — speculating Tay went ham to fill the “widening gap between Taylor Swift the artist and Taylor Swift the phenomenon” with “a firehose of material.”

Horn’s evaluation seems to be that Taylor wasn’t precious enough and should have adhered to that old writing rule, kill your darlings. She says TTPD is “conspicuously wanting for an editor”:

“She piles the metaphors on thick, throws stuff at the wall even after something has stuck, picks up the things that didn’t stick and uses them anyway.”

Horn seems to feel the album is more miss than hit as a result. She mostly is unimpressed with everything that’s so familiar, especially musically — though she calls out But Daddy I Love Him as fresh and exciting and “reaching flights of fantasy unlike anything else on this album.”

The New Yorker

The New Yorker‘s review calls the album “too long and too familiar.” We’re sensing the pattern here.

Writer Amanda Petrusich calls out the lyrics like NME did, also singling out the Charlie Puth line, calling it “one of the weirdest verses of Swift’s career.” She goes on to say:

“Even the greatest poets whiff a phrase now and then, but a lot of the language on the record is either incoherent (“I was a functioning alcoholic till nobody noticed my new aesthetic”) or just generally bewildering (“Florida is one hell of a drug”).”

Petrusich does point out lyrics she loves though, like:

“Now I’m down bad, crying at the gym / Everything comes out teen-age petulance / F**k it if I can’t have him.”

That was a line Molloy couldn’t get her head around, either! Like we said, it’s all subjective! Again, THAT IS OK! Honestly, it’s even great! You can’t expect something to 100% hit home with one person without getting a little bit further away from a listener with very different life experiences.

The New York Times

The New York Times‘ Lindsay Zoladz says some of TTPD is “a return to form” but as it goes on “Swift’s lyricism starts to feel unrestrained, imprecise and unnecessarily verbose.” She references the art form Taylor has embraced as evidence of why it doesn’t work very well — poetry. She explains:

Sylvia Plath once called poetry ‘a tyrannical discipline,’ because the poet must ‘go so far and so fast in such a small space; you’ve got to burn away all the peripherals.’ Great poets know how to condense, or at least how to edit. The sharpest moments of The Tortured Poets Department would be even more piercing in the absence of excess, but instead the clutter lingers, while Swift holds an unlit match.”

It seems overwhelmingly those who didn’t love the album are of a similar way of thinking — in releasing so many tracks, Taylor seemingly didn’t narrow it down to the best she was capable of. It sounds like they think we got something like the assembly cut — the unedited version of a movie with all the footage before it gets tightened up and made to work as a real piece of solid entertainment. They all feel like it’s hit and miss, maybe at too low a quotient. Like a mediocre SNL episode.

These are all painstakingly well-considered reviews by good writers. But importantly they don’t consistently agree on what the hits and misses are. So again, there’s no need to read these reviews as attacks. Everyone is just giving you their take! So take away what you can from the reviews, let it help solidify your opinion whether in agreement or disagreement. It’s all part of the experience of a new piece of art, y’all! Enjoy!

[Image via Taylor Swift/YouTube.]

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