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Taylor Swift's "The Tortured Poets Department"

All images are official photography from Swift's album

On April 19, 2024, Taylor Swift released her newest album titled The Tortured Poets Department. Being her eleventh studio album, it contains 31 tracks across the regular album as well as a double version called The Anthology. The album was received with many differing opinions from fans and critics alike.

Across the album there are two main producers with very different styles. Jack Antonoff has been working with Ms. Swift since 2012, when they first met. The songs that he produces tend to contain more pop melodies and synth sounds. Some albums that contain more of his production are 1989, Reputation, and Midnights. These are Taylor’s more pop-albums.

Aaron Dessner is the other main producer on The Tortured Poets Department. He has also been working with Taylor since 2012, but the songs that he collaborates on are a more indie style, with folk and more acoustic styles that allow Taylor’s voice to shine through as the main element over the music.

Some fans feel like this album, as well as her former album, Midnights, which was released in October 2022, has an “auto-tune” feel which is drastically different from how her older music sounds. This comment is mostly aimed at songs produced by Jack Antonoff, where listeners sometimes feel like the synth and pop beats drown out Taylor’s voice, and they prefer the Aaron Dessner style where her voice is the main element over the music. They’ve also mentioned that these songs feel more emotional and authentic to Taylor herself.

Another criticism towards Antonoff’s style is that it can feel repetitive and get very similar and somewhat boring, as the songs don’t feel new or original anymore. Whereas, with Dessner’s style, they say that the songs are all very different with more poetic lyrics and unique sounds.

After Taylor released The Tortured Poets Department at midnight EST, she released a second half of the album called The Anthology at 2am. This addition nearly doubled the length of the album, making it a total of 31 songs.

The two parts of the album, the regular album and The Anthology, are very different in sound, with some Swifties saying that they treat them as completely different albums.

A common critique of the album is actually about The Anthology itself, with some listeners saying that it made the albums so long they couldn’t listen to it all the way through. Others also say that it felt “extra,” and that the quality of the songs on the double album was significantly lesser than the standard album. One Swiftie even said that she started to get sick of the album while listening to the extended version.

The opening track of the album is “Fortnight (feat. Post Malone)”. Opinions on this song do range, but the general consensus seems to be that it is not as good of an opening track as Taylor has produced in the past, but it is a good song overall. With Post Malone’s feature barely present, some listeners joked that there isn’t a feature at all, and compared the song to a track of Midnights, “Snow on the Beach (feat. Lana Del Ray)”, where Taylor went back in the studio to re-record a version of the song with more of Lana’s voice included in the song.

The Tortured Poets Department contains only one music video, to the song Fortnight, which received no significant responses. It seems to be viewed neutrally, with no one specifically hating on it nor considering it a masterpiece.

The album had a second feature, “Florida!!! (feat. Florence and the Machine)”, which has been received very well. The song has been described as “majestic” and Florence’s feature has been showered with praise from fans of Taylor’s. Some fans did mention that on the first listen, they weren’t sure how to feel about the song, but it eventually grew on them.

Overall, the album has been received relatively well. Some criticisms have been made that the album feels repetitive and weak when put together. However, each song on its own is very strong and serves its own purpose.

Some fans are saying that with this new album, that it’s time for Taylor to change her music and move in a new direction as it has started to get repetitive, and that there are many directions which she should travel in with her music.

Besides all the criticism, there are many things that have been complimented on the album. One of these things is the writing and poeticness that Taylor’s lyrics contain.

(The album is mostly liked by fans, even with the issues that they have had with it. Potentially in the future we will see Ms. Swift travel in a new direction with her music, or even begin to work with a new producer, though it seems unlikely that she will switch it up so abruptly when it is not something she has talked about. Her Eras Tour continues through 2024, and we will see what her career has to show us in the future.

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