“Lover” or Hate: Taylor Swift’s Newest Album


Taken in 2010, a five-year-old Alexandra shows off her Zuzu pet and unbrushed bangs, the same year Swift debuted bangs of her own.

For over a decade, Taylor Swift has dominated the pop charts, and over a decade, she has influenced the lives of young girls.

Like the time I got bangs in kindergarten because Swift had bangs, disregarding the fact that my face shape does not suit the hairstyle.

Her seventh and most recent album, Lover, released on Aug. 23, and I currently have it on repeat.

Over half of the 18 songs on the album are reminiscent of Swift’s usual pop style and follow her conventional theme of relationships.

In comparison to her last album, 2017’s Reputation, Lover is more mellow and less edgy, with more and more songs sounding similar to the rest of the 2019 pop scene. 

Swift’s voice in “I Forgot That You Existed” and “I Think He Knows” follows a similar staccato cadence, and “ME!” sounds straight out of the Trolls soundtrack even with the addition of Panic! at the Disco artist Brendon Urie.

Despite the familiarity of most songs off Lover, a few standouts break the rules of 2019 pop because of their use of unorthodox instruments.

“False God” is the best example of this.

Its unmistakable, short introduction instrumental brings the listener back in time to a 1920s jazz club as the notes of a saxophone float out of the speakers. 

Take an accidental nap while listening to the song and flappers will most definitely make an appearance in your dreams. 

The rest of “False God” is more of a modern take on smooth jazz in the best way possible despite its lack of variability within the verses or beat in general.

“It’s Nice to Have a Friend” also has the ability to transport listeners.

Taken that same day in 2010, kindergarten eyes peak at the camera from behind bangs.

The strong presence of steel drums throughout the song changes the setting of my accidental-nap dream to a New York subway station, where the everyday routines of a Brooklyn commuter are interrupted by a reminder of their exciting, innocent, wonder-filled childhood. 

Or maybe to the Caribbean where I lie on the beach next to my buddy Sebastian the crab from The Little Mermaid.

“Cruel Summer,” on the other hand, does not stand out for its use of an interesting instrument but rather for the intensity Swift constructs with her words.

Swift shouting “He looks up, grinning like a devil” has enough zeal to make you choke on the sip of water you happened to be taking at the exact moment the line played.

To make you nick yourself shaving in the shower.

To wake you up from that accidental nap.

“Death by a Thousand Cuts” is also fueled by passion, as Swift uses her mature vocal chops to emphasize “My time, my wine, my spirit, my trust/tryin’ ta find a part of me you didn’t take up.”

That line is enough to send you over the edge of crying after a bad day.

No matter how similar the piano track of “Death by a Thousand Cuts” is to “1000 Miles” by Vanessa Carlton, Swift stays relevant by being relatable.

By using unconventional instruments and emotion in her songs, Swift allows listeners to channel their personal troubles and tribulations, even if the message they interpret is not the one she originally intended. 

Her ability to transport her audience and make them feel what she feels is unparalleled in the world of 2019 pop, with or without bangs.

Correction: Lyrics from “Cruel Summer” were originally misquoted. The information has since been updated, and Aquila regrets the error.