At this point, I have listened to Taylor Swift’s “Lover” album more times than I can count. I can confirm that this is the best album of 2019. This album is the sunset on a fantastic day, the morning where you feel refreshed, the day where everything seems to go right. Every song on this album is absolutely incredible, though I would expect nothing less from Taylor. “Lover” sold 867,000 units in its first week in the U.S. alone. Globally, it sold over 3 million. This is the largest first week of 2018 and 2019. The most recent album to sell this many copies in the U.S. in its first week was Taylor’s “reputation” back in Nov. 2017. This album is mostly sonically cohesive in theme (though maybe not track order), and overall a happy album.
The largest theme on the album is love, fitting for an album called “Lover.” Taylor approaches this theme from a few different ways. This is clearest during the upbeat pop tracks like “I Think He Knows,” “Paper Rings,” “London Boy” and “ME!” Between catchy tunes and strong opening lines, these songs are all stand outs. “Paper Rings” is my favorite track on the album, and maybe even one of my top ten Taylor songs of all time. It sounds like the opening of a late ’90s, early 2000s teen romcom. I love it with my whole heart. “London Boy,” though mocked by English people for no good reason, is another really cool song, opening with a clip of Idris Elba in a James Corden interview and a laugh from Taylor. Taylor tries some more experimental sounds on this album, and this risk really paid off.
But Taylor’s not afraid to slow things down and write a passionate ballad. She has two on this album: “Lover” and “It’s Nice To Have A Friend.” These songs deal with a love so strong and true that it feels like forever. These are the songs to listen to with your eyes closed, lost in the gentle dreamscape of her airy vocals and soft production.
That’s not to say that “Lover” only contains happy songs. Taylor has mentioned that she wanted this album to document a real relationship, from the highs to the lows. Songs like these show the darker side of things. “The Archer,” “Cornelia Street” and “Afterglow” reveal fears about a relationship ending for a multitude of different reasons. In each song, Taylor acknowledges her own fears about love, taking full credit for any issues in their affair. “Death By A Thousand Cuts” dives into the emotions of what an actual breakup would feel like. Perfectly placed, the track follows “Cornelia Street” on the album, which catalogs Taylor constantly questioning if what she and her partner have is real.
The saddest song on the album, however, has nothing to do with insecurities or romance. “Soon You’ll Get Better” is a song about Taylor’s mother, Andrea, who is battling cancer. It’s heartbreaking. Listen at your own risk. This song features The Dixie Chicks, one of her mother’s favorite bands, and brings Taylor back to her country roots. However, this song sounds like no other on this album and feels a bit misplaced. It’s spot in the tracklist is a bit strange as “Soon You’ll Get Better” is sandwiched between “London Boy” and the sultry “False God.”
“False God” is another one of those experimental tracks. This song is like no Taylor Swift song ever made, like nothing I’ve heard before. Originally my least favorite, this track is starting to grow on me. Slow and sexy, a saxophone comes in and out throughout the song. “Cruel Summer” has a darker sound reminiscent of “Getaway Car,” and “Out Of The Woods” is a unique vibe on this rather light album. It’s a classic sound that emerges when producer Jack Antonoff and Taylor work together and became an early fan favorite.
The track that has garnered the most attention, though, has nothing to do with love. Taylor gets a little political on this album, as we saw with early single “You Need To Calm Down.” These more aggressive tracks all have a completely different sound from each other, from angry to fearful to unbothered. Taylor has spoken up about the unfair sexism she has faced in the industry in recent years, but “The Man” takes it to the next level. She consistently points out the fact that men are allowed to date as much as they want without being shamed, a luxury she never enjoyed. The bridge of this song is a tie for my favorite on the album. The first time I heard “raking in dollars and getting bitches and models,” I think my heart stopped. This song was clearly popular, the fastest on the album to reach 100,000 streams on Spotify. Later, Taylor uses “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” to say “stop calling me a Republican.” She uses high school as a metaphor for America and calls for a shift in power, destroying the glorification of traditional American values.
The opener and the closer may not seem similar at first. “I Forgot That You Existed” is a snippity track calling someone irrelevant, while “Daylight” is a softer song about true love. However, these songs are both about releasing negative energy and becoming genuinely happy. So take Taylor’s advice: “step into the daylight and let it go.”