‘The Tortured Poets Department’: A Taylor Swift Unlike Anything We’ve Ever Heard


As a lifelong Taylor Swift fan, it’s always exciting when she releases a new album. Her eleventh album recently dropped, and it’s not what I was expecting. It’s also quite different than her previous albums, but nonetheless, just as great as the albums that came before “The Tortured Poets Department.”

Not to mention this album is 31 (!!!) songs — the most she’s ever done on an album. That was quite the surprise to wake up to the next morning! She just cannot stop writing, but if you have listened to the album in its entirety, she certainly has a lot to say. I am here for it.

Fans have come to expect fun-loving songs mixed in with the ballads on Swift’s albums, but this time, the songs were more ballad/heart-wrenching songs. If you’re looking for more of Swift’s pop-centric songs, you’re not going to find it here. She shakes things up!

I’m not one of the fans to overanalyze who the song is about because I appreciate the songs for what they are and how they make me feel. “TTPD” is a healing album, it would seem. She’s getting over a breakup, situationship and heartbreak, and many fans are questioning which songs are about Joe Alwyn, Matty Healy and Travis Kelce. While it’s clear there are some songs that are easier to decipher who they’re about, there are some that will have you guessing or assuming who they are about. I think that was her point, though. I can appreciate the aspect of some privacy she keeps in regards to that. Regardless of who the songs are about, you hear her heartbreak, anger and sorrow, like in “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” and “loml.” She certainly takes you down an emotional path in “TTPD.”

There are songs that immediately jumped out to me, and those are the songs with the more upbeat and somewhat angry tune. “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” felt relatable because your heart can break in various ways, not just from a relationship, and we’ve all experienced some kind of heart break that we’ve tried to mask with a smile. This song seems like it came from a place of her coming off a six year relationship and then immediately going on tour and putting on a smiling face for her fans. Her job demanded that she not wallow in his grief from ending a long-term relationship.

Then there is a song that comes from more of a place of anger or some kind of seething. That song is “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”. Everything about that song demands that you sing it at the top of your lungs. I mean, that bridge, COME ON.

I’d be remiss to not mention the collabs on “TTPD.” Florence + The Machine’s “Florida!!!” has a sound that is so unlike anything Swift has ever done. At first listen, I was a bit on the fence about it, but it’s quickly become one of my favorites off the album. Post Malone’s “Fortnight” is another good one (that music video was amazing!), but it doesn’t hit as hard for me as “Florida!!!”. However, I do love Post Malone’s voice, and I think he was a good fit for that song.

For me, the first half of the album is more memorable, but I still appreciate the additional songs that she dropped at the wee hours of the morning. The album is not like anything she’s ever done, which is refreshing because it makes you sit and think about it. There’s definitely the hint of heartbreak, but there’s also some anger and bitterness mixed in with reminiscing of good memories within the album. Plus, the ones that may be about Kelce are more filled with that new love feeling.

Though it’s not what I expected, it is still a solid album. This just goes to prove that Swift continues to be at the top of her game and keeps her fans guessing. I, for one, thought it’d be more about the end of her long-term relationship with Alwyn, but I was wrong! What a journey she takes the listeners on.

If I had to choose my top three songs, they’d be “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” “The Tortured Poets Department” and “Florida!!!” I am sure that will change as I digest more of the album in the weeks to come, as I do with every album she puts out.

What did you think of “The Tortured Poets Department” upon the first listen? Comment below and check out our other music reviews.