2020 certainly has had its ups and downs, but for Swifties all around, Taylor Swift’s new album may have been one of the unexpected ups. Her eighth studio album, “Folklore,” released on July 24, came as a complete surprise and was inspired by her time in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A stark contrast to the upbeat, electronic sounds of her past albums (namely “Lover” and “1989”), “Folklore” has a very mellow, stripped-back sound. Leading with the hit single “Cardigan,” “Folklore” is a new age for Taylor Swift, with many fans applauding it, and some criticizing it.
By Prem Naik | Senior Staff Writer
As an avid listener of Taylor Swift, in my personal opinion “Folklore” was a lackluster album, despite her commendable attempts to experiment with a new sound.
In many ways “Folklore” even serves as a callback to her self-titled album, “Taylor Swift,” with the reduced electronic backing and a heavier emphasis on guitar and piano, as seen with “the 1” and “seven.” The song “betty” even sounds like it could have fit in with tracks from “Fearless” and “Speak Now,” and is probably the standout track.
The problem with the other tracks, however, comes from their style and mood they create, with their echoing harmonies and dreamlike sound. Many of the tracks become indistinguishable, and even after multiple listens it was difficult to tell many of the songs apart. In many ways, it sounded like an upbeat take on Lana Del Rey’s work, but without her signature darkness or sound that suits the dreamlike style better.
Taylor Swift’s past albums also had lyrics that were simplistic but effective and catchy. However, “Folklore” delves into the abstract with mixed results, with lyrics that are unable to convey as much emotion to the tracks as they could. As haunting and dreamy the music tries to be, the lyrics fail to capture the same ambiance.
Folklore is a new direction for Taylor Swift, and while I may be in the minority, I wish it had more memorable tracks.
By Birju Dhaduk | Senior Staff Writer
Being the first Taylor Swift album that I have listened to in its entirety, “Folklore” blew me away. Taylor Swift covers a large range of relatable themes and stories in her songs and through the use of similes, metaphors and allusions, Swift makes her lyrics a lot more meaningful.
As it is common for many Taylor Swift songs, there are a number of songs in “Folklore” about Swift’s past lover. She reminisces about a past relationship in “the 1” and wonders about what life would have been like had they done things differently.
In “exile,” Swift alludes to what ended her past relationship, talking about how she left signs that her significant other did not pick up on, and how they did not directly communicate with one another.
Swift avoids giving a specific name or identifying characteristics of this past lover, thereby not making these songs about herself or the unnamed lover, but rather the emotions tied with the relationship. This detachment makes “the 1” and “exile” a lot more meaningful and relatable to the fans that may have gone through a similar situation.
Swift also talks about her current relationship and her feelings towards it in songs “invisible string” and “mirrorball.” The latter displays how she is head over heels for her lover and feels supported by him. She discusses how she does not care what others have to say about her and it is only what her lover thinks that matters to her.
Swift later uses “invisible string” to talk about the feeling that she and her lover are tied together by destiny and are meant to be. The feeling of euphoria that Swift expresses is also one that is highly relatable and helps make the songs that much better.
Moving away from her love life, Swift also includes various tracks that talk about her life around her music career. In “my tears ricochet,” she alludes to her ongoing feud with Big Machine Records and Scooter Braun, and how after leaving the music label they are still holding on to her by keeping the masters of her first six studio albums.
Meanwhile, “the last great american dynasty” tells the story of Rebekah Harkness, a philanthropist and patron of the arts, and how she relates to how Harkness was blamed for things in her life that were not in her control and had her every move followed and criticized by tabloids and the general public. Swift later expands on this in “this is me trying” and talks about her past feelings around being criticized and not knowing whether her fans truly loved her music and whether she should have continued writing music at all.
This level of depth that she chose to share with her fans, especially through the lyrics of her songs makes “Folklore” one of Swift’s best albums yet.
Regardless of fans’ opinions on her latest effort, Taylor Swift will continue to dominate the charts and once again establishes herself as a powerhouse in the music industry. As a businesswoman and artist, it is great to be in a place when experimentation will still result in success.
The media will unfortunately always be extra critical of her, especially as a woman in media. But, as listeners and fans, we can always share our opinions while still appreciating her music, and remain eager to see where her career goes next.