It's been waiting for you. Here I am, once again to review Taylor Swift's fifth studio album, 1989 which is indicative of Taylor's birth year. Yes, it has leaked so I'm not going to say anymore than that. And while I do understand that fans don't want to hear about the leaked versions, I guess I can't say much more than that.
The pop-country superstar's newest album sees her wear the pop crown and dance around her trophy room. If Shake it Off tells me anything but signs and dreams, I can safely say that this album maybe won't be as hugely successful as Red would be. With new ventures comes new writers in the form of Ryan Tedder (from OneRepublic), Jack Antonoff (from fun.) and Diane Warren, while still working with producers Max Martin and Shellback from her previous release. Has Swift's transition from country and pop to pop be a little burden towards that total change? Halfway through the album, I can safely say no.
There's a lot of things to keep in mind when one listens to the album. Firstly, there's not a whole lot of very stagnant, slow-paced and downtime in between songs. Every track possesses it's own style of signature, unique blend of instruments such as the guitars, the synthesizers and the drums, all of which encompasses the first four tracks of the album. And those tracks itself were not very self-contained nor told a story which Swift has done before. Blank Spaces and Style are proof that while Swift may have reacted to the pubic audience about her relationship issues and whatnot, she has struck back in the clear. However, they don't come to me as revoltingly mesmerizing, and at times rarely catching for attention of the listener. They do come across as scorching pop radio anthems that rudely crashes the doorstep, and in a good way.
Secondly, calling this a 'radioactive pop album' and 'formulaic' feels as if the listeners barely scratched the surface with this album. It's not the best insult simply because there's a lot to be heard on this album that Swift has basically not done before. For example, there's a much bigger of shedding the light on her past relationships, than with Speak Now or Red. Or if listeners do digress about how the album weaves in and out of posture because of different melodic tones, then they are simply missing the point of how versatile Swift's music has become. And for that reason, is a huge plus to the pop star (legitimate term now) for having a wide array of tracks that do not feel enclosed and self-contained, as said above.
But as a listener, what I'm really looking at is how Swift writes her music without the undertone that the country element has completely vanished from sight. Yes, This Love does sort of resemble a little bit of Red and maybe Speak Now, but there's new material there that is enough for fans to flourish in the idea that Taylor can do well without having to use her track record to back her newer music up. And I'm not generalizing the fact that she is well-sounded lyrically to impose herself on just pop-melodic-accents musically. Because when the words show up, they tend to lean from her perspective so it's really intricate and jarring to hear it first-hand. Blank Space is the perfect example, and the outcome is rather solid. There's the very proud use of synthesizers while not really overshadowing her vocals, and the drums provide the dramatic tension that makes the listener want to get engaged into hearing. Some other tracks that feel similar are Bad Blood and Clean.
The other tracks like Out of the Woods and How You Get the Girl simply follow in the footsteps and have the right amount of the pop genre dressed yet still has a Swift edge to it. The unique thing about it is how she has used the instrumentals to her advantage, especially the drums on the album. They provide the eccentric punch yet doesn't lose it's flair when overplayed.
At this point, it does feel as if the album doesn't have any flaws. There are some very blaring ones for sure.
Some tracks on this album feel too generic and they play out as if you've already heard of them before. Welcome to New York, I Wish You Would and Wildest Dreams feels as if Taylor hasn't fully let go of the country vibe tangled on her sleeves. They just feel like 'another track' and seem to provide focus for the other bigger hits, which also includes her smash hit Shake it Off. Because of this, these tracks are now the more slow-paced, powdered tracks that would otherwise leave off the album as energetic fun and a charismatic take on the pop genre as defined by Swift herself. Of course, the problems stated above could also be individual worries that maybe the average listener would not feel the same with.
Favourite Tracks: Blank Space, Style, How You Get The Girl
Least Favourite Tracks: Welcome to New York, I Wish You Would, Wildest Dreams
Some artists tend to ride out into the sunset with a heartache on their sleeves and a punched ticket to fame. While Swift may over-extend her welcome in the country genre and tackle the same problems all over again albeit in a genre that she feels more comfortable with -- 1989 is a solid album, albeit laced with genre-related issues and at times strict melodies -- that you definitely should check out.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.