Last week, Taylor Swift's seventh studio album, Lover, saw release. The FADER's staff, naturally, has some opinions on T-Swift's latest. Read on for our staffers' takes.
If you didn’t already like Taylor Swift, don’t expect Lover to magically change that. At this point in her career, she knows what she’s good at: bright, diaristic pop songs with earnest lyricism that sometimes verges on cringe — which also contributes to her charm. If you can get behind her vision, though, you can’t get mad at Lover. Instant classics include the radiant “Cruel Summer” and “The Man,” Swift’s latest double-standard call-out that lands gracefully and effectively. The cringe-cutes, “London Boy” and “Cornelia Street,” are so transparently personal that they land close to “I can’t believe she wrote this” territory. And yet! Sounwave’s groovy production and Taylor's blatant love declarations for English boys make “London Boy” pretty irresistible, and “Cornelia Street” similarly hits so sweet. What can I say — her candidness wins again. -- Steffanee Wang
Lover is Taylor Swift’s best album since Red — the moment she truly made the move from country star to genuine pop star. Since that 2012 album, her music has felt a bit forced and pandering to whatever the world expected her to be. 1989 was her claiming the throne of the World’s Biggest Pop Star (at the time) through a blend of nostalgia for 80s pop and a rejection of her country background; Reputation was her attempt to answer critics through a muddled, confusing sound that lacked any real focus, as if she wanted to say something so badly but wasn’t quite certain what that was. And so Lover arrives at a crossroads for Swift, as she struggled to land a number one single in the bulidup to the release. But those low stakes created an opportunity for Swift to make music she wants to make, as opposed to making music she’s expected to make. There’s a creative energy to this collection of songs that’s been missing, and even though this is a record that’s not going to turn you into a Taylor Swift fan if you aren’t one already, she's at a stage in her career where she doesn’t need to worry about that kind of thing anymore. I mean, she's Taylor Swift. -- Eric Sundermann
It's well established at this point in the Lover discourse that "ME!" was not the best choice for the album's lead single. It could, however, have been worse — that is, if Swift landed on "London Boy" as her opening statement. While I'm sure it's exciting to meet an English boy and move to his home city, I've got to break it to Taylor that it sounds like she's having a really bad London experience. Sure, gray skies are a staple and a rainy cab ride can have its unique appeal, but there should be a part in the Geneva convention about watching rugby with privately educated school boys. Shoreditch in the afternoon is purely the refuge of freelancers escaping their WeWorks while Camden Market is really only worth it if you like buying oregano in eighths. Very few people heard Ed Sheeran's "Galway Girl" and thought, 'How romantic." Swift, it seems, was clearly one of them. Repeat listens to Lover aren't helping establish any great shape, nor is anything truly sticking for me. "The Archer" is fantastic and I'm enjoying the Lorde-esque "The Man," save it's slightly ham-fisted approach to gender equality. I want to like this album more. Maybe it will sound better over high tea. Who knows? -- David Renshaw
Lover is a sugar rush that plods on just a bit too long. That isn’t to say it’s not enjoyable, or insightful — there’s some major epiphanies buried throughout, particularly on tracks such as “The Archer,” or “The Man,” in which Swift articulates the double standards leveled against her in a way that feels more succinct than ever before. And then there’s “Cornelia Street” or “Lover,” songs so elementally Swift that they feel like they’ve always existed within this fairy tale she’s been constructing across seven albums. But when she deploys the same garish pop-rap cadence on tracks such as “Paper Rings,” “London Boy,” and “ME!,” Lover starts to feel like it’s harping on the same note, a fate that might have been avoided had the track list been pared down from its current Antonoffian overindulgence. -- Salvatore Maicki
Judging a pop star's trajectory through an awards show appearance is about as effective as standing outside all day to predict the weather — but Taylor Swift's performance at last night's MTV Video Music Awards nonetheless tilted towards the essence of the Lover era. The transition from the garish, unbelievably loud full-band rendition of "You Need to Calm Down" into an anthemic solo performance of Lover's windswept title track highlighted that Swift's seventh album operates at pure extrovertedness, and that works in its favor. She's rarely been bolder ("The Man") or as straightforwardly corny ("London Boy") as she is here, turning her Taylor Swift-ness into an absolute virtue. But there's something achingly personal about Lover, too, well beyond her lovestruck chronicling of her relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn: "Soon You'll Get Better" is a tender, touching tribute to Swift's mother who's currently battling cancer, as Dixie Chicks provide harmonizing that acts as emotional bedrock to such a raw moment. You can't mistake such personal diarizing from anyone else, and on Lover, that's certainly a good thing. -- Larry Fitzmaurice