Taylor Swift releases her eleventh studio album ‘The Tortured Poets Department’

Taylor Swift poses on a bed for the cover for “The Tortured Poets Department.” PHOTO COURTESY OF PRINTERVAL

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

Content warning: this review discusses themes of depression and alcohol abuse. 

On April 19, Taylor Swift released her 11th studio album entitled “The Tortured Poets Department.” Swift announced the album on Feb. 4 while taking the stage to accept the award for Best Pop Vocal Album, which her 10th album “Midnights” won. 

“I needed to make it. It was really a lifeline for me,” Swift confessed during her Feb. 16 concert in Melbourne, Australia. “It sort of reminded me of why songwriting is something that actually gets me through life and I’ve never had an album where I’ve needed songwriting more than I needed it on ‘Tortured Poets.’”

It became especially apparent that this album was a lifeline for her when, at two a.m. on April 19, she released “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” which doubled the number of tracks released, bringing the album to 31 songs within two hours and two minutes runtime. 

“The Tortured Poets Department,” or TTPD for short, is arguably Swift’s most personal album yet. Each track on the album dissects feelings associated with various recent relationships. Fans have speculated various songs are about Joe Alwyn, her former boyfriend of six years, Matty Healy, the lead singer of The 1975 whom Swift seemingly had a fling with, Travis Kelce, her current boyfriend, and even a song about Kim Kardashian. Overall, this is her break-up album, dissecting the process of losing and mourning her previous relationships.

Regardless of who the songs are about, TTPD seemingly confesses that Swift has been struggling with some dark themes such as depression, alcoholism, and more. Her song “I Can Do It With A Broken Heart,” appears to be a confession that her time during “The Eras Tour” was not as happy as it appeared to be, with lyrics like “Breaking down, I hit the floor / All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was chanting, ‘More’ / I was grinning like I’m winning, I was hitting my marks / ‘Cause I can do it with a broken heart.”

In my opinion, Swift has always been able to create a cohesive-sounding album. However, it may be too cohesive this time around. Whether it’s due to Jack Antonoff’s production (which, in my opinion, may be holding Swift back creatively) or the fact that this album has 31 songs, I cannot tell the songs apart.

The album is also incredibly heavy, with so many words and very complicated topics. Every song feels like I’m trying to solve a puzzle of who she’s talking about or what she’s referring to. With the exception of a few songs, that is a seemingly impossible task. The language she uses also constantly has me reaching for a dictionary to try and decipher the text. After listening to the full two hours, I am left feeling exhausted.

The confusion that I feel while listening, however, seemingly mimics the confusion and turmoil Swift was going through during these intense moments of loss. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the songs that had featured artists. 

“Fortnight” featuring Post Malone is the opening track of the album, and I cannot understand why. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good song and I really like Post Malone, but I don’t feel that song is a great introduction to the album. Pressing play on it and waiting for Post Malone to start singing took me back to the time Swift featured Lana Del Rey on “Snow On The Beach” in “Midnights” and the fandom essentially bullied her into releasing the “More Lana Version” because she was featured so little on the song. I hope that a “More Post Malone Version” exists somewhere and that we gain access to it because this version left much to be desired. 

I will admit, Swift did better with “Florida!!!” featuring Florence + The Machine. This song is what I feel a song with a featured artist should be. I will say, however, that I don’t feel that Florence Welch and Swift’s voices blend well together. While Swift has more of a pop feel to her voice, Welch is more of an indie rock voice and I just didn’t feel that their voices blended well. 

I commend Taylor Swift for sharing such a personal album with the world. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be so vulnerable to millions of strangers. Although I am critical of the album, I must admit that Swift delivered an incredibly complex and intelligent album.