Taylor Swift matures through new sound

REPUTATION , RELEASED ON NOVEMBER 10, MIXES synth sounds with Swift’s old pop.

On the outside, Taylor Swift’s new album Reputation is composed of celebrity feuds, ex-boyfriends, and her new image. (Nothing worthy of taking time out of my day to write an article for The Poly.) If you want it to be, the album is predictable. At a deeper level, the album is found to be a cohesive piece that combines deep bass and tight snare beats to synth tropical-house choruses that Taylor uses to emphasize the message that she has expressed through the creativity of each one of her albums: music is an art that is always changing.

With a synth that provides a bright yet somber tone, the songs each take on a feel of their own when paired with a dynamic baseline, giving the album a foundation upon which each song can flow into the next.

The opening track, “…Ready For It?” provides the general structure for the majority of the songs, with an opening verse that dives deep into the baseline with a muted hi-hat and exciting snare that open surprisingly into the aforementioned synth chord-progressions. These give the listener a breath of fresh air before again diving into the bass. The contrast is most notable in the first song, making it aptly named for an introductory piece, playing at the possibility that the rest of the album may be more than we bargained for.

Synth repeatedly mixes with bass drops that are, quite honestly, unexpected for Taylor Swift; a deeper step into the pop genre that may be newer for her, but definitely not unfamiliar. The cut time in “Dancing with Our Hands Tied,” the syncopation in “King of My Heart,” or the major key change during the bridge of “Getaway Car,” all demonstrate a masterful familiarity with the ins and outs of pop composition that characterize the powerful genre.

Notable are tracks such as “Delicate,” “Dress,” and “Call It What You Want.” They place less emphasis on a beat drop and more on the vocals and synth, allowing for the lyrics to shine through. In the beginning of “Delicate,” absent of a baseline, Taylor proclaims the namesake of the album with the line “my reputation has never been worse.” If the driving bass allows Taylor to show off her new tricks with pop, then the lack of it is a nod to the lyrical prowess she has retained from her singer-songwriter days.

The final nod to her development as a musician is the final song on the album, “New Year’s Day.” Taylor ends with pure vocals backed by a piano and guitar accompaniment. Immediately, we are taken back to the very beginning of her career, where heavy electronic instrumentation was not part of the stylings of Taylor Swift. It’s as if we are led back down the path that we have traveled through each album—back to the artist she was ten years ago.

But the message behind this album, the message most vividly depicted by “New Years Day,” is that though Taylor has changed, she is the same. She has grown. Her music has grown. What we are left with is not a different Taylor, but a matured Taylor who has written an album that is recognizable not through its similarities to her old work, but through its novelty. What we are left with is tight harmonies, a mess of a party on New Year’s Day, and a request to “hold onto the memories.”