Taylor Swift Lover review round-up: Critics say album feels ‘evolutionary rather than revolutionary’

Critics have hailed the album as a swoony comeback from 2017’s divisive Reputation

Adam White
Friday 23 August 2019 12:29
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Taylor Swift dancing to her own song is the ultimate mood

The release of new Taylor Swift albums are events – secretive, mysterious and inevitability polarising, reflective of a pop titan who everyone has an opinion on. And Lover, her seventh album, has the distinction of following up her most polarising, 2017’s Reputation often a dark and rageful collection of songs in which Swift embraced the “snake” within and refused to speak to the press about it.

Lover, in contrast, has been all magic and stars, Swift moving past antagonism and finding love and emotional security instead. And critics have for the most part been impressed, despite reservations when it comes to the album’s length and some of its wackier lyrics.

Here’s a round-up of some of the major reviews so far…

Alexandra Pollard, The Independent

Lover feels like a partial resurrection of the Swift of old: moony romance and earnest earworms abound… Swift has been in a relationship with the actor Joe Alwyn for over two years, and [track] ‘London Boy’ is a beautifully nerdy ode to his home country. It will probably be mocked, but it is pure joy… You can already hear the hordes of British fans screaming along to the line, “They say home is where the heart is, but God I love the English”.”

Dana Schwartz, Time

Lover is its own kind of megalithic statement, a sharp rejoinder to the critics who have characterised her as petty or drama-seeking… Fans who joined a Swift early listening session correctly identified this album as a lovechild between Speak Now and 1989, lifting the personal lyricism from the former and the synth-pop production from the latter.”

Nick Catucci, Rolling Stone

Lover is, fittingly, evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But nevertheless it feels like an epiphany: free and unhurried, governed by no one concept or outlook, it represents Swift at her most liberated, enjoying a bit of the freedom she won for her cohort.”

Jason Lipschutz, Billboard

“As a pop record of varying tempo, the pieces don’t always fit seamlessly, but Swift’s steadiness as a writer is enough connective tissue to prevent any jarring transitions or notable swoons across the track list. Free of expectation or any real narrative outside of her own making, she basically spends Lover doing what she wants, when she wants, dialing up the intensity in places and offering some of the most straightforward song structures of her career in others.”

Bryan Rolli, Forbes

“In a world where TikTok savant and meme-lord Lil Nas X‘s ‘Old Town Road’ can rule the Billboard Hot 100 for nearly five months only to cede the crown to teenage iconoclast Billie Eilish‘s ‘Bad Guy,’ Swift’s nonstop PR blitz and nearly algorithmic pop songs can seem outdated and unwelcome. Thankfully, Swift mostly avoids the ‘how do you do, fellow kids? mentality and refuses to cop to too many younger trends on Lover. Instead, she perfects a winning formula, shooting her anthemic love songs and heart-on-sleeve lyricism skyward with ‘80s synthesizers and enough gang vocals to fill a stadium by herself.

Rebecca Lewis, Metro

“Musically, the tracklist is a solid mix of upbeat pop bangers, dreamy pop songs, heavy bass beats that make you want to clap along and devastatingly sad ballads but there are some tracks that get lost among the crowded field. Others you can’t help but wonder what power they would have had if there had been less production, while perhaps surprisingly some are more obtuse in their lyrics than we’ve come to expect from Taylor.”

Neil McCormick, The Daily Telegraph

"Lover may be Swift’s most perfectly Swiftian album, superbly balancing the virtues of Americana songcraft with slick, modern pop production. Swift (credited as co-producer) has reined in the digital excesses and punchy beats of 2017’s Reputation, and the sound is clean and lean, employing standard chord progressions and mid-tempo rock rhythms, subtly updated with ear-snagging digital sparkles."

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