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Lover Album Review (song by song)

27 Sep

This is the album that brought me strongly back to the Swift-verse fold.  I like that the songs are cohesive, as is the overall message of the album.  But each song also can stand alone.  I am putting the songs in order from my favorite to the one I don’t really like.  And I am listening ONLY to the songs, not judging based on the feeling of the era (love it!), the stylings (FAVORITE!), or the music videos (must buy a DVD because they are that  good).  This is sans Easter eggs–unless lyrically, they are imbedded and don’t require too much prior knowledge to appreciate. Some of that is simply impossible to remove because I’m alive in the world.  As an aside, I have intentionally omitted the words, “bop” and “banger” because they sound dumb, are overused and need to die.  So here the review goes:



The opening line bothers me just slightly, as til January is not late, and not rebellious to leave Christmas lights up-I’d say it’s early, actually.  But Taylor has people so it maybe gets done instantaneously otherwise.  Back to the song, this style of this song reminds me of 1940-1960s sound.  I tried to remember what it’s called, but I don’t know if I ever knew.  Whatever it’s called, it comes across as very classic.  My favorite thing about the vibe of this one is the romance of it all.  It makes me feel sentimental and like love is very lovely, indeed.  The wedding symbolism is strong, and despite that (I find it too saccharine and capitalistic and antiquated) I get all the feels listening to it.


I forgot that you existed.

It’s got just that feistiness that really put me on team Taylor in the first place.  I mean, we (Taylor in her life and me in mine) are not just going to sit and take anyone’s crap-there will be some writing about it.  Yes, it’s probably harping on the Kanye stuff, but it’s a very small part of the album.  Also. it’s mellow shade, tightly written.  Which  provides just the right transition between the Reputation album and this one.  Makes it flow and continues the story of Taylor’s evolution.  And what could be worse than just writing someone off as meh?  The song itself is poppy and you find yourself humming it later.  Even though it’s really a transition, and not super-representative of the album’s theme, it’s toward the top of my list because this song is easy to listen to.


You Need to Calm Down

Yay Taylor!  This one is past overdue.  The gays needed some love, and got a political advocate as a bonus.  The timing of this one (Pride month) was perfection.  YNTCD became the fun soundtrack of June.  It’s a light-hearted listen with a serious message.  Lyrically, the statement is important, as is Taylor making her position clear.  I like the message and the peppiness, it’s perfect for the target audience.  It’s an ear-worm also.  TRY to get it out of your head once it goes in your ears.

The only thing that could be smoother is if the 3 stanzas went together better.  The first is talking about internet trolls and references the snakes and everything of KimYe.  But can also go along with gays getting trolled (though doesn’t mention that explicitly).  The second part of the song is about crazy protesters at Pride parades.  The third verse is about the media (patriarchy) pitting the female music artists against each other (which is NOT done with guys) instead of appreciating everyone for their strengths.

I think it would have been more cohesive if each of the 3 verses either all dealt with gay issues, all dealt with Taylor’s personal image, or if all 3 verses did double-duty.  As is Taylor’s personal stuff is left out of verse 2 (or is it?) and the gays are not really a part of verse 3.  But that’s a very small writing technicality, I really like this song over all, and think it’s a wonderful single, and a good representative of the feel of this album

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Death by 1000 Cuts

The bright sounds bely a sad subject matter, and I like that dichotomy.  I also like the symbolism of a building being used for a relationship.  Is the background a children’s choir?  It’s an interesting sound if so.  The strongest part about this song (is it called the bridge?) is when she starts to quickly list things, “my heart, hips, my body, my love…trying to find a part of me that you didn’t touch” that this person influenced for her.  It evokes emotion and makes the music interesting.


False God

The brass and slowness make this sexy.  And that’s a cool thing that Taylor has started showing in her songs.  I’m glad she’s not pulling a Britney and trying to play it virginal and innocent–especially in her 20s.  Wholesome and sexy don’t have to be seperate.  The way she pronounces the final “love” in each line is my favorite portion of the song. I ranked this one nearly equal with “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” but that one inched above based on its bridge.  It was slightly more fleshed out.  But this is one of the top songs on the album.


The Man

Go Taylor!  I’m glad Taylor acknowledged that she’s a feminist.  How could someone that markets herself vigorously, tightly controls her image, writes her own music, and makes THE most money not be?  But I’m glad she realized feminism isn’t the dirty word that society sometimes makes it out to be.  Yes, the song is a little bit surface-level, but considering her primary audience is teenage girls (I’m determined to change that–calling all elder-Millennials! ), it’s appropriate.  It’s also dipping a toe in so as not to alienate people with the oft-mentioned ‘radical feminism’ sold to scare women off from politics and keep them in their place.  I do appreciate the cheekiness of the song, totally agree with the message, and love that she called out Leo is an example of the double-standards that exist.  The personal (that Taylor is renowned for writing about) IS political.  Good introduction and hopefully there will be more of this is Taylor’s future writings.



About a subject seldom written, “Afterglow” really shows a maturity that Taylor is gaining.  Yeah, there is a place for the angry songs, blaming $hit-heads for their dirty deeds.  Do it-love it!  But this apology song shows that Taylor is accountable for it when she messes up too.  Well done on showing both sides of the coin.  It’s not easy putting aside your ego, and it’s probably doubly difficult for Taylor who is kinda known for lashing out at her haters.  It’s an interesting 180 looking-inward also.


Paper Rings

Immediately catchy and bouncy.  I like the upbeat baseline and spoken word verses.  It’s a very cheery story of a song, peppered with stylistic choices such as shouting the “three times” that makes it different.  The quiet chorus at the end shows the seriousness Taylor puts in the subject matter, and it’s a nice emphasis so the listener knows it’s not all superficial pop-this means something.  The lyrics make me wonder who the song is about and I can tell whoever it is has Taylor’s complete affections.  Also, I hope it isn’t an ambush song, because the wedding imagery is thick.  Please be a Kaylor!


Cornelia Street

What a change from the last song!  This is my choice for next best song, but it also happens to be the track order, which seems an abrupt change in mood.  And as an aside, that change in mood, or showing the yin yang is throughout the album.  With bouncy music and sad lyrics.  This track order is more of that same idea.  “Cornelia Street” is a darker side of love, fearing that it will end.  It talks about a possible break up, but still in that peppy/poppy dichotomy that lives throughout Lover.  The whispered message in wavery, teary voice goes a long way to show the devastation a permanent breakup would cause for Taylor.  It’s the best part.  The sounds under the music (wind?  heart beats?) are a little clumsy in my opinion.  It’s not obvious enough to me what they are, so it’s hard to know what they represent.  It just feels like forced production, a weakness in the sound engineering…  Also, this song means a little less to me mostly because it references landmarks a lot, and I have no familiarity for any of them.  so a little bit of it is lost on me.


 Cruel Summer

There started out being a 3 way tie between this and the preceding two songs on my list.  This one ended up being the weakest of the 3 in my opinion after listening many times.  It’s a good song, with a good story, and many symbols, which I always like.  But against other songs on the album, the music is straightforward and exactly what you’d expect.  There’s not that yin-yang that is showcased throughout the other tracks.  I guessed where it was going, then it did.  The track length is very short, so I feel like if they had added something the song could have been better.  I must say, I do like it very much because of all the possible Kaylor symbolism.  I think it is the strongest song in that regard.  But that will only come out–if she does.

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It was nearly impossible for me to judge this song on it’s own, without thinking of the video or the Easter eggs, but those are my rules so I tried, really hard.  When I first heard, (and 2nd, 3rd, 4th) this song I did NOT like it.  I thought it was cheesy, annoying, and too.  Just too, I’m not missing a word.  Like very extra.  The spelling breakdown?  Awful.

But it does grow on you.  The best parts are the end, when there is just a crescendo of feeling and things are getting more emotional and tense.   By the time Brenden Urie hits those high notes, I have goosebumps and teary eyes from all the feelings.  Oh, and a pro-tip I heard from a podcast is that replacing “spelling” with the name of a bar or location, makes this a super-super catchy karaoke jam.  Good point, and thank you for that.  Rectified.

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It’s a perfect closer for an album, so there’s that.  And tying this song (and therefore the Lover album and TS7 era) to Red is smoothe.  It makes the whole career linear and pulls the past into this album, correctly shows an evolution, and it just a great mechanism for good story-telling.  That’s the genius.

The song, individually, is also very much a story and shows Taylor’s maturity about love as a concept.  She has gone from very fairytale and romcom-love to a more balanced version with more good times than bad times.  But not perfect.  Because love isn’t about perfection, as real people know.  The song is also excellent as using that color imagery so important to this album’s era.  I like when the cadence gets slower, volume gets lower, and the golden = love echo sounds.  Like so many of the tracks those tactics convey seriousness amid the catchy pop.  The spoken message at the end is very moving also.


Miss Americana

This song leans against a lot of immature symbolism.  The cheerleading chanting is tiresome and makes too light of the politics Taylor is trying to finally shed light on.  It minimizes the impact it could have had.  Which maybe was the point she was trying to make–keep it light.  Also, I didn’t care for the high school stuff because I think Taylor has aged out of all the high school content long ago, but I’m glad she’s officially putting that away by rejecting it in this song.  I guess I can see how that is useful to the album’s concept as a whole.  It is nice that the album does look back to earlier works and draws connections while showing the lessons learned.  It exemplifies the butterfly of it all.


Soon You’ll Get Better

Important, that’s what this is.  Heavy subject that everyone can relate to.  A song of grief that will be utilized whenever the C-word comes up or tragedy or end of life.  The sentiment is real.  Taylor says aloud what so many people think, and I respect that.  The strings sound somber and pretty.

Including the Dixie Chicks is the best.  It helps give them visibility after they “were [unfairly] cancelled” boy, how things have changed.  That group’s cautionary tale also provides a statement of why Taylor was reluctant to engage with politics.  And I like that she showed that, instead of telling it.

I didn’t rank this song higher on the list, even though it’s so thoughtfully done and important, because frankly, it’s a bummer.  And I’d rather be happy.  But when the time comes when I need it (and everyone will eventually have that time, making this a universally appealing song) It’ll be on repeat.  Thank you Taylor, for putting your emotions on the table, letting us have a piece of your personal life, and sharing your experiences, no matter how real and painful.


I think He Knows

This album had bright hits.  Each track got me more excited than the next, peaking, and now this one was sort of on the other side of that peak.  The songs from here on I started to like less, instead of more.  Musically, it acts like the “Miss Americana” lyrics.  It’s a little too superficial in sound.  With bubbling and tings and blips and ‘eh’ noises.  Too many onnawannapeas–what a cool word though, right?!  The song is simple and the fast part ending in “I’ll drive” was the best thing about it.  But if you notice the music backs off quite a bit while she does that.  I would have told the producer/engineer to cool it a little with the gimmicks.


It’s Nice to Have a Friend

This song ranks as one of the lowest because it confuses the heck out of me.  We’re going along, and the feeling is childhood platonic friendship.  Which is sweet to cover as part of the Lover medley of all types of love.  Then suddenly, everything is made weird by the line, ” something gave you the nerve to touch my hand” and turns the whole scenario on it’s head.  So it’s not kids, and it’s not platonic, because nerve to touch my hand is tension.  It makes me wonder who this is about (guy or gal?) and what age they are in this one.  The story is all over the place so it bothers me.  IF Taylor comes out as bi or gay, I’ll like this song as a hint.  If Taylor is actually totally straight and marrying her boyfriend [no way!] then, this song isn’t good writing.  Also, the horns remind me of some kind of Alice in Wonderland fox hunt or something, which lends to the weird, out of place vibe this track has on an album of love.


The Archer

want to like this song, especially since it’s in the all-important track 5 slot that is so important to Taylor.  I just can’t get into it, because it feels like a lull.  Everything else on the album is catchy, mostly poppy, then this one is slow and echoing in a way that breaks that up.  It doesn’t fit well.  I also don’t care for all the cliche’s used in this one.  Taylor is such a good writer, skillfully employing symbols, metaphors, and double meanings always, so I feel this is a little lazy.  I want more from this.  I do like this other more double-sided analysis of archer and prey, however.  Just like on “Afterglow” it shows maturity has been gained.


London Boy

I don’t like this one at all.  I think/hope it was meant as a satirical song about bearding (best case scenario).  But it’s too pandering, yet geographically inaccurate.  She pulled in every expression and place possible and pretty much listed them.  It’s so light it floated away.  I do think it’s the strongest brass on the album though.


So obviously, I love the album as a whole and as pieces.  We’ll get to the era and symbols and analysis in other blogs.   So there is my ranking.  Enjoy.