In her official pop debut Taylor Swift’s “1989” is finally upon us. If one thing is certain about this album, it’s that this is not the same Swift from her self-titled 2006 debut “Taylor Swift.”
Swift’s signature upbeat style is still present on this album, but what separates it from her previous ventures is the production and lyrics. Swift said this album was inspired by ‘80s pop and it shows.
Songs like “Style” and “I Wish You Would” have the same groovy vibes you would find from songs in the ‘80s. Song like “Shake it Off” and “Welcome to New York” are more reminiscent of contemporary pop.
Swift still gets her young girl in love songs on the album as well with the tracks “I Wish You Would” and “This Love.” What makes things songs different from Swift’s previous country-pop sound is that these do sound more like ‘80s love ballads from an adult than whiney love songs from an adolescent.
Where the album lacks however is its variety. The first five tracks are practically the same song over and over in terms of their structure and tempo. All these tracks have the same verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus for three and a half minutes and it’s noticeable after one listen. Unfortunately this is not a problem found exclusively in Swift’s music as other pop songs of late have used the same method.
Another shortcoming of the album is Swift’s over harmonization of her voice during the chorus on nearly every song of the album. Swift has the vocal tenacity to sing a catchy chorus without the assistance of two more Taylor Swifts. It’s disappointing to hear her belt it out for the final choruses of these tracks only to smother herself with more of her own voice. It all sounds over produced and unnecessary and seems like Swift is using it as a crutch instead of trying to use her raw talent.
“1989” also suffers from Swift not using her full lyrical capabilities. Known for always writing songs about break ups ands chasing boys she refrains from that on most of this album but in exchange there’s some lazy songwriting here.
“This love is good, this love is bad this love is alive, back from the dead these hands had to let it go free and this love came back to me,” Swift swoons on “This Love.” The lyrics are fine here but that’s all they are: fine. Swift is a gifted songwriter and should be produced better lyrics than this.
Overall this album has some really groovy beats with synths and hi-hats and really accentuates the ‘80s style Swift is going for. However the lyrics leave something to be desired and that’s what makes this album feel like it could come from any pop artist not Taylor Swift. The songs are catchy though and some do get better after multiple listens but that still requires some devotion to the album. If you’re a die-hard Swiftie then this album is fun listen and should leave you very pleased with Swift’s transition into pop. For the non-die-hard fans the album might feel like common denominator music, especially in a genre that’s as saturated as pop these days.