It comes as no shock that Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album has become the most anticipated album release of the year. “Reputation” may have had the least impactful promotional single roll out compared to her previous records but the album has completely smashed records in less than 24 hours. Everyone was waiting for her to crash and burn but instead she’s proved that she’s actually got a good reputation. The experimental record hears her ditching her roots and heading towards a more electronic influenced pop delivery. It’s more in your face, brash and filled with angst and attitude compared to her previously clean-cut image.
Album opener “Ready For It?” was one of the “better” promo singles but I will never get over how she’s shadily replicated Kanye West’s “Im in It” beat. But the chorus is very good and typical Taylor which is nice. She then makes it clear that she likes to repeat the word “Reputation” a lot on the Ed Sheeran and Future collaboration “End Game”. This song grows on you a lot with its sassy verses and vulnerable hook. But it’s the petty and seductive “I Did Something Bad” which will have you bouncing and dropping to the INCREDIBLE production. If this song doesn’t become a single soon then I want to have some serious words with who is looking after her promotional department for this record. Because “Look What You Made Me Do” is a banger and a half but it was a strange lead single and there are a lot of stronger songs to choose from on this collection. “Don’t Blame Me” and “So It Goes…” are the Taylor songs you expected and wanted from this record but just have a heavier production that really capture the sound she is trying to embody. “Delicate” instantly became my favourite track on the record because it’s classic Taylor and so euphorically brilliant and vulnerable that you can’t help but love it. However she does repeat the word “Reputation” a lot again and it’s a bit exhausting. Like we get it, you have a big reputation. “This ain’t for the best. My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me”. But lucky for her the hook is super adorable.
The album then starts to slowly go down hill as the songs begin to sound very similar and repetitive with their “alternative” production. “Getaway Car” was created for her future stadium spectacle and feels a bit out of place on the record, “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” is a bit of a try-hard Flume cringe worthy moment, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” is an exhausting dig at Kanye and do I really need to re-instate state my opinion on the embarrassing “Gorgeous”? She does make up for it with the very cute “King Of My Heart” which grows on you with each listen. It’s as if she’s taken a song from her third studio album “Speak Now” and given it a full pop makeover. It’s in moments like this that you stop and think about her impressive evolution as an artist. And then you listen to the raunchy “Dress” and you know that we would’ve never heard that side of Taylor prior to her new found confidence. But i’m glad cause it’s a bit of a bop. “Say my name and everything just stops. I don’t want you like a best friend. Only bought this dress so you could take it off, take it off”. She then closes the album with the euphoric and strongest promotional track “Call It What You Want” and the odd ballad “New Year’s Day”. Now, this whole record I’ve been waiting for an emotional and heartbreaking ballad that was going to rival “Green Light” as song of the year but it never came. Instead we got a ballad about cleaning bottles up on New Year’s which lets be honest is something Taylor would never do. But it’s a nice reflective look at holding onto people through good and bad times. It’s a grower but its nothing groundbreaking like “Clean” or “All Too Well”.
What “Reputation” does deliver is growth. It truly is like nothing else she has ever released and it’s not meant to be. There are moments where the old Taylor shines through and reminds you that she is not dead and I’m glad because I do miss the vulnerable version of herself that we were all so well acquainted with. While it may not be a flawless album like “1989” it does elevate her career to the next level. All these songs are stadium ready and I’m interested to see how she decides to perform them and how she will reinvent her old material. “Reputation” grows on you with each listen and while it may not be instantly your cup of tea you will eventually find your self pressing replay on a lot of the songs (Mostly just “Delicate” and “I Did Something Bad”).