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The Mass Media

A new Era has arrived: ‘The Tortured Poets Department’

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Olivia Reid
Taylor Swift at Gillete Stadium last May during “The Eras Tour.” Photo by Olivia Reid / Photography Editor.

Taylor Swift is known for her gut-wrenching lyrics, outstanding vocals and upbeat pop melodies. She once again exceeds expectations in her 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” which released on April 19.

Swift first announced the album at the GRAMMYs this past February. Ever since, fans have been speculating about what is to come. The advertising of this album by Swift’s team was one their most complex to date.

On Apple Music, Swift dropped five playlists, representing the five stages of grief. Fans theorize that this is what the album is based on. Spotify also partook in the festivities by hosting a Tortured Poets Library pop-up in Los Angeles, Calif.

Excitement has been brewing for the last couple months. However, the speculation has finally come to an end, with the release of her most devastating and lyrically complex album yet.

Swift’s haunting vocals open the album with “Fortnight,” featuring Post Malone. She starts with, “I was supposed to be sent away / But they forgot to come and get me / I was a functioning alcoholic / ‘Til nobody noticed my new aesthetic.” These lines set the theme for the album: her struggle with heartbreak and depression in the peak of her public persona. This is the first of two collaborations on the record.

The next song and the album’s title track, “The Tortured Poet’s Department,” mixes drums, guitar, and glaring hints at her moody ex. “But you told Lucy you’d kill yourself if I ever leave / And I had said that to Jack about you, so I felt seen,” she sings, highlighting the deep struggle between her and her partner to maintain a healthy relationship.

Swift only wrote two songs by herself on the album, one of them being “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys.” This pop anthem illustrates how Swift’s ex ruined their relationship: by breaking her. She sings, “And I’ll tell you that he runs / Because he loves me.” This showcases the denial she lived under in the relationship.

Two hours after the midnight release, Swift released “The Tortured Poets Department: An Anthology,” which brought 15 more tracks in addition to the 16 songs released originally.

The first song on the Anthology, “The Black Dog,” is a piano ballad, separating the melancholy tone of the Anthology from the synth-pop beats of the original. “Old habits die screaming,” she sings, in reference to depression, the fourth stage of grief.

The last song on the album is another piano ballad, “The Manuscript.” She discusses what her relationship was like “in the age of him.” “The Manuscript” is a perfect ending to the album. After going through the five stages of grief, she can now look back on her relationship without grieving any longer.

Through eras and heartbreak, Swift’s fans have stuck by her every move. Maybe this new album will bring more shows, or maybe it won’t. Either way, Swift’s fan base will follow her the whole way.

About the Contributors
Rena Weafer, Arts Editor
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor