Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated seventh album, Lover, was released on August 23. Leading up the album, Swift released four songs, including three lead singles such as “Me!” featuring Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco, “You Need To Calm Down” and “Lover.” Swift also released “The Archer,” track five on the album, because the fifth songs on her album tend to be fan favorites.
Lover is a dramatic change from Swift’s sixth album Reputation. It’s a pure pop album with eighteen songs ranging from soft tracks and anthem bangers, each with a more personal take on Swift’s life. Here’s our track-by-track review of Lover.
“I Forgot That You Existed” – 7/10
The opening song of Lover takes the listeners out of the Reputation era with a fresh beat of piano keys and snapping fingers. It’s widely speculated that in the first verse, Swift looks back at her melancholy era, which was influenced by her feud with Kanye West back in 2016. (Some fans also believe that Swift is referencing ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris.)
Swift sings that “one magical night,” she just forgot West existed. The feeling left Swift unrecognizable since she hasn’t felt peace and quiet in a long time. Swift graciously shows it in the chorus with the lyrics: “And it was so nice, so peaceful and quiet.” Swift’s vocals emphasize “nice” and “quiet,” which sounds like a sigh of relief. Swift becomes the bigger person and puts her foot down in this narrative. The opening track is not a hate song — Swift simply reminds everyone that “It isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference,” and she’s over it.
“Cruel Summer” – 9/10
The second track of the album has high potential to be Swift’s next leading single. The song opens up with a beat that is similar to the chorus of Swift’s “Getaway Car.” Like “London Boy,” “Cruel Summer” has a beat that sounds like an underwater submarine which isn’t so pleasing but still mixes with the other beats well.
Swift has been teasing up the lyrics such as “devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes” in a mural in Brooklyn, New York. The lyrics also have a significant meaning, implying that daredevils are willing to break the rules but angels scoff like bystanders. Swift speeds up the tempo of the song, almost mimicking “Out of the Woods” as she begins the chorus. Swift describes “Cruel Summer” as a breakable heaven with no rules as the relationship she sings about is experiencing intoxicated mishaps.
“Lover” – 10/10
The title track of the album takes a soft break from “Cruel Summer’s” rollercoaster ride. “Lover” is a soft slow dance song that is perfect for love birds to sway back and forth to the rhythm of guitar strings like a heartbeat. The lyrics are simple, innocent and dreamy — like falling in love for the first time. The most noteworthy lyrics are from the bridge, which mimics two lovers exchanging their vows at their wedding day.
“Lover” marks the security and honesty of a relationship through mishaps and intimacy. Swift truly left a beating heart attached to the title track as if the emotion felt alive. It’s something that myself as a listener can fall in love with again and again in a couple of years. There’s no denying it’s a timeless song. “Lover” sounds like it’s from a different era, and in a couple of decades, looking back, “Lover” will sound like a vintage song.
“The Man” – 10/10
Swift challenges sexism in “The Man.” The song begins with a concept of men being able to do whatever they want without the judgment of the world following their every decision. The beat is minimalist with a touch of masculinity created by the lyrics Swift sings. In the chorus, the beat quickly changes as Swift emphasizes that she’s “so sick of running” fast to get where she is, but if she were a man, the road would be lit green.
The second half discusses the double standards in the entertainment industry. The media and haters would not question Swift’s recognition and success if she were a man. On the topic of how many people she has dated, she would be praised, and not shamed, if she were a man. With its empowering lyrics, “The Man” is the anthem that everyone needs to discuss.
“The Archer” – 8/10
The mid-tempo ballad takes a serious note on one-sided relationships. It begins with how relationships take teamwork and effort, just like combat in a war. However, it’s something Swift isn’t ready for. She’s tried before, but her lovers wouldn’t put in the effort to understand her. Once the chorus ends, the beat begins to build up.
Swift doubts herself in the relationship as she feels self-conscious and closed off. The lyrics “I wake in the night, I pace like a ghost. The room is on fire, invisible smoke and all of my heroes die all alone. Help me hold on to you” is a potential experience with anxiety. Her internal feelings can be easily hidden by her outside appearance. Swift wants her lover to have the patience to fully understand her. “The Archer” is the most self-personal song she has co-written since her 2012 country album, Red.
“I Think He Knows” – 7/10
The melody of snapping fingers returns for the sixth track of the album. In a way, “I Think He Knows” is a conversation between Swift and herself as she’s head over heels over her lover, yet no one seems to know how she feels. The beat enters the chorus as Swift sings about how her lover makes her “heartbeat skip down 16th Avenue.” Swift doesn’t have to tell her lover how she feels since she thinks he already knows.
After the bridge comes the best part of the song. All the beats and Swift’s vocals overlapping becomes exciting. There’s something new and different about the song, but it ends quickly so the listener can’t really enjoy it.
“Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” – 9/10
“Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” is a breakup letter to the USA. On the surface, Swift is mentioning the rituals done by quintessential American high school (e.g. homecomings). However, these traditions are a metaphor exploring current American politics as Americans are stripped from their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Lyrics such as “We’re so sad, we paint the town blue. Voted most likely to run away with you” and “My team is losing, battered and bruising” symbolize the 2016 presidential election, as Americans were in pure sorrow after the red team took the win. Swift references the Democratic Party as her team. In the bridge, “Go! Fight! Win!” is chanted by cheerleaders, possibly leaving America hopeful for the next election.
“Paper Rings” – 8/10
Swift takes the listeners back to the 1950s and channels “Stay Stay Stay” from her album, Red. The 1950s rhythms are heard within the fast claps and the overlap of a tambourine. Like, “Stay Stay Stay,” “Paper Rings” is sung quickly and could be easily mistaken as a song from a past decade. The rhythm of the song compels the listener to want to like it, but it doesn’t quite grasp listeners’ attention. In this eighth track, Swift sings about how true love doesn’t need to be overseen with glamorous expensive gifts. She expresses how true love is about the feeling and memories shared with lovers.
“Cornelia Street” – 9/10
The ninth track of Lover has a production seemingly inspired by “Delicate” from her previous album, Reputation. The entire song is a “what if?” alternative question: what if Swift and her lover break up? The pain would be too hard to bear if she had to walk on the street of her apartment that she once shared with her lover.
The whimsical beat stops as Swift talks about it. Swift is serious about her lover. Then the beat transforms mid-chorus to its originality as she longs her vocals into a desperate beg. Swift continuously mentions that she would never walk on Cornelia Street again, indicating the impact her lover would leave on her.
“Death By A Thousand Cuts” – 9/10
Inspired by Netflix’s Someone Great, “Death By A Thousand Cuts” is a heartbreak song with angelic vocals that belong in heaven. Heartbreaks are hard to get over, and the film is all about an entire night of trying to get over an ex-lover. It explores trying to love yourself with a piece of your body when it’s been fully exposed to love by someone else.
The intro of the song begins to haunt with the listener with its “my, my, my.” The transition begins to change to an acoustic guitar, which chills out the song. The synthesizer is only heard through the left side of the song, so it’s slightly hard to focus on Swift. With a first time listen, a listener can easily ignore the entire song at once, but it gets much better after a few more plays.
“London Boy” – 8/10
Swift’s Cats co-star Idris Elba is featured in the beginning of the song as a snippet of his interview on The Late Late Show with James Corden is played. The snippet foretells the song as Swift talks all about her adventures in London with her lover, British native Joe Alwyn. Swift experienced traditional activities like having high tea and exploring West End during her time in London. Swift name drops plenty of popular spots in London, which left many Londoners speculating if she actually visited London.
There’s a small beat that shimmers like the stars, but there’s a blunt beat that sounds an underwater submarine that kills it. There’s no denying the sound is odd, but it gets lost like Swift in London.
“Soon You’ll Get Better” featuring Dixie Chicks – 9/10
In the twelfth song of Lover, Swift shifts to a different person in her life: her mother, Andrea Swift. The soft ballad is Swift’s homage to her mother who’s suffering from cancer again. Swift takes the listeners in a day of Swift’s life starting with a detailed doctor’s visit.
The Dixie Chicks join Swift in the chorus to assure Andrea she’ll get better. Their vocals sync together against the acoustic guitar, banjo, and piano keys. Swift changes the narrative to herself though it’s not selfish as it sounds. Swift needs someone to help her process her thoughts and emotions, and that’s always been her mother.
“False God” – 8/10
Track thirteen is the outcast of the lovey-dovey album. What could’ve been a track in Reputation, starts off with a distant saxophone clearing the air of an almost failed relationship. The beat of the drum is low and steady while Swift goes back and forth describing the perfect relationship and the realistic failed relationship. It’s an indie song making a distinctive mark in a bubblegum pop paradise.
“False God” has a deeper meaning in a sense of sexual tension with the lyrics “I know heaven’s a thing. I go there when you touch me, honey. Hell is when I fight with you.” It can be compared to other tracks such as “Don’t Blame Me” and the obvious track “Dress,” which are both from Reputation. Swift and her lover’s false god is the hope that they’re truly going to make it after an obstacle.
“You Need To Calm Down” – 8/10
The political anthem begins with strangers behind screens throwing sticks and stones at Swift. Swift continues to get real about all the haters she has come across from the internet and in person. The power banger calls out all the negativity spreading on and off-screen, such as bullying and cancel culture. The song also references GLAAD, an LGBTQ+ organization. The music video became a hit featuring LGBTQ+ celebrities coming together against hate. After all, love always wins.
The tempo is influenced by 80s pop music. However, the beat is more mature in a way that is clear and heard and not messy and overlapping. The snapping fingers return in a melody syncing with the beat. Swift’s harmonizes with herself, which is quite surprising because without it, the song would go nowhere.
“Afterglow” – 8/10
“Afterglow” is a safe haven after a fight between lovers. Swift comes clean with herself and lover for causing trouble in paradise. Taking the blame is something Swift is not familiar with, but she’s willing to face it for her lover. She also asks for forgiveness to move on from the situation, so they can process in the potential relationship.
The beat in the song is a bit too rough since the drums are hitting hard for the lyrics and the message behind it. However, it can also symbolize the fact that it’s hard to come forward with reality.
“ME!” featuring Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco – 7/10
The first single of Lover is completely forgotten about unlike the other songs off of the album. However, there’s no denial “ME!” has a thoughtful message about self-love. The music video featured plenty of Easter eggs dropping hints about Lover. Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco joined Swift in the track as well as in live performances at the Billboard Music Awards and iHeartRadio’s Wango Tango Concert.
However, the simple lyric “Spelling is Fun!” is missing from the song in the album, which is a bit odd because most listeners are expecting it. The drumbeat transition is awkward and too long. Nevertheless, “ME!” is a fun and quirky song in its own way.
“It’s Nice To Have A Friend” – 7/10
The seventh track gives vibes of HBO’s Big Little Lies and Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars with its melody of steel drums and mysterious school choir vocals. The choir vocals were actually sampled from The Regent Park School of Music in Toronto, Canada. The royalties of the song proceed to the school’s fund. The story goes as simple as it can be: school friends become high school sweethearts.
The track is the shortest in length out of the entire album. The song is quite a burden as there’s no excitement introduced, and it’s rather monotone compared to the entire concept of the album.
“Daylight” – 10/10
The closing song starts fresh as Swift forgets all the mishaps from previous relationships to find the current one. Luckily, her lover pulled her out of the darkness and into the daylight. Swift is now focusing on things that make her feel bright and happy. She has suffered with herself and others, but now it’s time to look out the window and into the future.
The beat is undergone when Swift is talking about the past, and then it becomes airy and light when she sees the daylight. The most notable lyric is “Step into the daylight and let it go” for its simplicity that can impact countless situations, whether it’s through love or inner tragedies.
Overall, Lover is a solid 8/10. Taylor Swift’s seventh album Lover is completely different from her past artwork, even though it has a touch from previous albums. There’s no denying that the album as a whole is a definite win. Indie pop had its moment, but didn’t quite transition well with other songs. Swift revived millennial pop music with its roots, fresh, dynamic and real.
Lover is defined as a journey between two people figuring out life and each other through a series of misfortunes and most importantly, love. Admiration of love also comes from an outside force of the relationship that is tested with faith for holding each other through it.
Lover is now available on streaming platforms and stores across the world.
Featured Image via Taylor Swift’s Official Instagram