Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department gets thumbs up from music critics around the world

Headshot of Jay Hanna
Jay Hanna
The Nightly
3 Min Read
In today’s episode, we unpack Taylor Swift's new album, The Tortured Poets Society, and reveal which ex-bf it's aimed at.

Has anyone checked on the Swifties? Are they still collectively breathing?

Because the moment they have been waiting for since Taylor Swift surprised all and sundry by announcing the upcoming release of her 11th studio album The Tortured Poets Department at the 66th annual Grammy Awards on February 4 is finally here.

And fans and critics seem unanimous in their praise of the collection of 16 new tracks.

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The year’s most anticipated album officially hit streaming services and record store shelves simultaneously around the world at noon Perth time today.

Fans were quick to start losing their marbles on social media decoding the lyrics and deciphering which of her famous ex’s — actor Joe Alwyn, with whom Swift was in a relationship with for six years before splitting in April last year, or Matty Healy, lead singer with the band The 1975 whom she dated in April and May last year — inspired which of the album’s 16 tracks.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 05: 77th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: (l-r) Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 5, 2020. -- (Photo by Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn at Golden Globe Awards in 2020. Credit: Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Reviews took a bit longer to trickle out with websites around the world adhering to the strict embargo, despite the album being leaked on various sites the day before its release.

Makes her competitors look a little wan by comparison

The Guardian

Rolling Stone was the first to hit send on a review. Rob Sheffield rated the album an “Instant Classic” saying: “The Tortured Poets Department combines the intimacy of Folklore and Evermore with the synth-pop gloss of Midnights to create music that’s wildly ambitious and gloriously chaotic”.

The Guardian scored the album 4/5 with Alexis Petridis stating: “there’s a depth and maturity to this album that makes her competitors look a little wan by comparison”.

Taylor Swift with boyfriend Travis Kelce.
Taylor Swift with current boyfriend Travis Kelce. Credit: TheWest

He adds that while most Swifties expected this to the Alwyn break-up album, it’s actually Healy who has inspired the bulk of the material.

“While So Long, London appears to hymn the end of her six-year relationship to actor Joe Alwyn, the album primarily puts a shorter-lived ex in the firing line: tattooed unpopular with her fans, erratic, given to public statements cooler heads might think twice about, the figure animating many of these songs is evidently Matty Healy of the 1975, with whom Swift had a short-lived dalliance last year.

Taylor Swift's new album
Taylor Swift's new album Credit: X/TheWest

Chris Willman from Variety: Whatever criticisms anyone will make of “The Tortured Poets Department,” though — not enough bangers? too personal? — “edge”-lessness shouldn’t be one of them. In this album’s most bracing songs, it’s like she brought a knife to a fistfight. There’s blood on the tracks, good blood.

Marie Claire’s Bree Player said: “While the songs on TTPD may be deeply personal accounts of the past seven years of her life, they are also our stories, because we’ve lived them too in our own unique ways. She just says it best. And so with TTPD, Taylor Swift will soundtrack the heartbreaks, rebounds and stages of grief felt by fans in their own lives forevermore.”

The global superstar co-wrore the album with long-term producer Jack Antonoff and The National’s Aaron Dessner who has been working with Swift since the release of her 2020 lockdown albums Folklore and Evermore, released six months apart.

Post Malone also has a writing credit for the first track and lead single Fortnight, on which he features. The black and white video for the song drops tomorrow at 8am.

British artist Florence + the Machine (aka Florence Welch) is also featured on the track Florida!!!

TTPD is expected to shatter streaming and sales records, many of which are already held by Swift including biggest first-week debut for an album of the 2020s which she holds for 1989 (Taylor’s Version) with 1.653 million units.

1989 (Taylor’s version) also holds the Spotify streaming record for most-streamed album in a single day.

TTPD is guaranteed to top the Billboard 200, becoming Swift’s 14th No. 1 album. That will tie her with Jay-Z for the most No. 1s for a solo artist, with only The Beatles achieving more No.1s with 19 albums.

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