Maybe you’ve heard: Taylor Swift has a new album, her fifth, and it’s really good. It’s actually the closest thing to a perfect pop release this year (that’s right: Nashville’s darling has gone full-on ’90s bubblegum), which basically means that, if you’re still resisting the T. Swizzle, it’s time you work on that. Because remember how un-cool it was to get down with the Swifties? Good luck hearing “1989” and not becoming one.
Welcome To New York
Taylor’s New York is as picture-perfect as an NYC souvenir shop postcard, and so what? This is her Oz. It’s rainbow-bright, synth-swathed and Ryan Tedder-produced. It’s also at least partly dedicated to “Friends of Dorothy.” “You can want who you want,” she cheers, liberated by the city’s gaydom. “Boys and boys, and girls and girls.”
Anyone who’s pegged Swift as someone who holds onto boys only until she’s written her next hit – this one’s for you. The 24-year-old’s never been this musically self-aware regarding the public’s relationship-challenged image of her, and it doesn’t hurt that she does so over a playful bounce that bridges the luscious sounds of Lorde and ’80s pop.
Love is a fashion statement on “Style,” one of those “guess the guy” confessionals wherein Swift wears her heart – and guitar-accented sonic chicness – on her fabulously tailored sleeve.
Out of the Woods
Leave it to Swift to casually chronicle a hospital trip (20 stitches were involved). Because aside from fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff’s anthemic production, the Polaroid-specific imagery about said accident – and something as seemingly mundane as moving furniture – is a rare pop treat.
All You Had To Do Was Stay
Is that really Taylor Swift channeling your favorite lesbian twins? It sure is. Even down to the synth-pitched “stay,” this Max Martin make sounds like an outtake from Tegan and Sara’s own, equally-dazzling pop transformation from last year, “Heartthrob.”
Shake It Off
She’s just gonna “shake, shake, shake … shake it off,” but with its infectious marching-band beat and pointed message to haters, you’re not. You can’t. And to think you were worried about Ebola.
I Wish You Would
Love conquers all – even petty fights with Taylor Swift. “It’s all good,” Swift expresses, moving on from whatever drama came between her and this ex. All the while, some guitar licks akin to “She Drives Me Crazy” and a synth-infused surge hold you captive, leaving little chance for any kind of momentary parting.
The girl-next-door moves in for the kill on “Bad Blood,” cautioning the nameless backstabber(s) about this word called karma. Note to Swift: You’re really fun when you’re feisty.
She loves cats so much that here, she becomes one. Purring like a sex kitten ready to pounce – what would Reba say? – Taylor channels her inner Lana during a chorus that is undeniably Del Rey-inspired. She even says “hell.”
How You Get the Girl
Tay and her cats obviously spent many a night consuming relationship advice from Cosmo and bopping to Britney Spears’ “Oops!… I Did It Again” album, and then getting bored by both and switching on the Disney Channel. I mean, how else do you explain this song?
Fine, Taylor; take my tears. Take them all. If the feelings-tornado triggered by a cherished scarf on “All Too Well” (from 2012’s “Red,” her last release) made your heart crack open, this lush little dream expressing relationship realness will have you mopping up the waterworks.
I Know Places
Swift steps into dangerous territory here. Overreaching with an edginess that doesn’t suit her in the first place, its brought-to-you-by-Tedder beat is also worn out – confirmation that you can run, but you can’t hide from a not-great song.
And the “Most Unlikely to Collaborate with Taylor Swift” award goes to… Imogen Heap. Bringing her fantastical brand of folktronica to Swift’s rebirth, the track is proof that there’s nothing the morning sun and a Heap of hopeful electric pings can’t fix.