T-Swift shakes it up: ‘1989’ review

By on November 4, 2014
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In the past two years, Taylor Swift has changed in the eyes of the media quite dramatically. We’ve watched as her glittery, flowing dresses and long curls were cut down to striped t-shirts and a bob haircut reminiscent of something from the 1920s.

In rhythm with her transforming style has come a developing new sound for Swift. Her fourth studio album, “Red,” was out in October of 2012, followed by an entirely successful set of 86 tour dates. Songs like “I Knew You Were Trouble” caused people to raise their eyebrows, unsure of how to feel about this “new” era of Swift’s music.

Yet somehow, particularly through her tried-and-true practice of writing all of her own songs, she remained fully herself despite these changes. Her fifth studio album, “1989,” dropped this past Monday and is a masterful record of pop-rock anthems preaching self-love and an “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me” attitude.

“Shake it Off,” the album’s first single released in August, is a memorable track accompanied by probably one of the catchiest horn riffs ever. It makes you dance even if you’re not a true “Swiftie,” but is it really a good representation of the album as a whole? My argument says no– “1989” is composed with far more depth.

Another track on the album, “How You Get the Girl,” similarly promotes dancing around your room singing into your hairbrush but is better musically than “Shake it Off.” Despite the more pop sound, it’s equipped with Swift’s trademark acoustic guitar, giving long-time fans the comfort that she’s still very much herself.

“Style” is the song to blast in the car while driving down the highway with friends at night. Not only is its beat enough to make anyone bob his or her head, but its classy lyrics yield a genuinely good pop song – something quite hard to come by in our era.

Swift channels a new vibe vaguely similar to that of Lorde in songs like “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood.” Echoing drums accompany cleanly-enunciated, sometimes husky vocals. Both could undoubtedly be radio singles; they fit right in line with the popular indie sound right now, but hold complexity in Swift’s insistent focus on well-written lyrics. Other tracks sound very much like her “old stuff,” as many of my friends say when they refer fondly to albums like “Fearless” and “Speak Now.”

“Wildest Dreams” –the most masterful song on the album, hands down–is very similar instrumentally to its three-year-old counterpart, “Enchanted.” Tracks like “I Know Places,” a tense, hurried anthem of a pursued love, and “This Love,” the lone ballad of the album, are arguably the closest examples of Swift’s original form.

Rolling Stone, TIME and various other critics have given “1989” top-notch reviews already. Monday marks one week of sales, and the album is predicted to possibly break the record for most album sales in release week for a female–a record currently held by Britney Spears.

What’s so monumental about Swift’s fifth album? It’s her fearlessness to branch out coupled with her ability to remain herself through any kind of change. It’s her authenticity, both in music and in persona. It’s her awkward dancing and the way her album actually preaches in favor of awkward dancing. She’s classy and she’s sexy, something many can’t pull off. She’s a sensation, and “1989” is, unsurprisingly, straight-up sensational.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

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