Taylor Swift’s ‘THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT’: A double album divides fans | The Triangle
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Taylor Swift’s ‘THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT’: A double album divides fans

Courtesy of Brett Jordan | Flickr

Taylor Swift released her long-awaited album, “THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT” on Friday, April 19, sending fans into a state of disarray. The album consists of 16 tracks and is a little over an hour long. At 2 a.m., Swift surprised fans by revealing that TTPD is a double album and released “THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT: THE ANTHOLOGY.” This added 15 more tracks to the previous 16, making the album 31 tracks total, and about two hours in length. 

Taylor Swift announced the album during her acceptance speech on the Grammy stage for her previous full-length album “Midnights.” The album won Album of the Year as well as Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Producer, Non-classical.

TTPD follows in the footsteps of her last album with producer and frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff returning to produce the vast majority of the album. The sound is also somewhat expectedly sonically similar, with the familiar dark moody synth and drums of “Midnights” making a return. While the full album is vast in length, the variation in sound is much more narrow. The vast majority of the 32-song runtime sounds largely the same production-wise.

This resulted in split reactions to the album from fans. Some listeners absolutely loved and related to the tracks, whereas others have complained about the synonymous sound of every song, expressing that a double album was not needed. Some fans saw this as a positive as it was easy to get lost due to the number of tracks. Fans have even said they have created their own “remixes” in their heads singing one part of one song and then another part of a different song right after, not knowing they had switched between tracks.

The album starts off with a Post Malone collaboration track, “Fortnight.” This was not an expected collaboration for Swift, but one that has been well-received. The song’s bouncy yet sinister intro pulls the listener in sonically, while the detrimental love storyline of the song and Swift’s harmonies with Malone keep the listener interested. 

The title track “The Tortured Poets Department,” is track two of the album. It is a bit different than the opener, with a lighter sound and more breathy vocals, but sets the sonic tone for the album. The song toggles with the fear of a partner leaving and not understanding how anyone else could know them as their current partner does. This track also features some of the more questionable lyrics found on the album, such as the line, “You smoked and then ate seven bars of chocolate, we declared that Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist”. Taylor is no stranger to wordplay in her lyrics, but even for fans, this line and others seemed out of place. 

So Long, London” starts off with an acapella intro before transitioning into the same dark synth style as the previous tracks. The song is a somber goodbye to both London as well as the relationship associated with it. The song sticks with Antonoff and Taylor’s usual style for the rest of the track’s run time. The track settles into a synth-backed ballad that fits sonically with the others on the album for its later half.

Swift shifts the mood a bit with track nine, “Guilty as Sin?” The song is in fact as suggestive as its title. Swift catalogs specific details of a hookup she fears only happened in her head, thus the chorus lyric “What if he’s written ‘mine’ on my upper thigh only in my mind?” 

Track 14, “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,” heavily leans into piano more than the other songs, and impresses on the listener an impending sense of doom. It describes the experience of being with someone who possibly had a hidden motive to destroy the person they were with, only treating them well in the spotlight. The bridge of this track is particularly strong and filled with raw emotion. It has also become a trend on TikTok for people to send this song to their exes, calling them “the smallest man who ever lived.” 

Track 20, “Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus,” is a slow ballad about watching an ex-partner find someone new. Swift’s soft vocals express heart-breaking imagery from the opening line of the song, “Your hologram stumbled into my apartment /hands in the hair of somebody in darkness / named Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus.”

The last track of the original album is “Clara Bow.” Swift sings about the experience of being “The IT Girl.” She references Clara Bow, Stevie Nicks and then herself showing examples of the women that came before her. At the end of the track, she also acknowledges the women in the industry who came after her with the line, “You look like Taylor Swift / In this light / We’re loving it / You’ve got edge she never did / The future’s bright / …Dazzling.” It is a wholesome closing track to an album of some of her most vulnerable thoughts. 

While a lot of fans were happy with both the full album and the single LP, several were disappointed. A lot of fans felt that the songwriting and lyrics were far below the quality of past albums. “Folklore” and “Evermore” are often referred to as the high point of Taylor’s lyrical career, and fans were quick to point out how much more rushed some of the songs felt by comparison. Users on music review sites “Album of the Year” and “Rate Your Music” both gave the album the lowest rating of any of Taylor’s past work. 

The album’s poetry theme and moody dark production set it squarely next to “Midnights” in Taylor’s discography. The references to people and relationships in Taylor’s life intrigued fans and got them invested deeper than ever before in what some are calling “The Taylorverse.” The way Swift openly speaks about her feelings and experiences in a poetic light drew many fans in. While the sparse production and at times childish lyrics might have turned some listeners away, most hardcore fans are happy regardless, with the latest album from the biggest artist in music right now, Taylor Swift.