Taylor Swift offers reflection
“1989” (Big Machine Records)
Taylor Swift’s all-out move into pop music on her fifth album, “1989,” is the sound of a young artist who has gradually evolved from a teenager obsessed with boys and journal writing into a young woman embracing life in New York and stepping to a new beat.
“Shake It Off,” her first single, was a fun introduction to the new Swift sound. But it’s the most lighthearted track on “1989,” which sweeps from the rocking confrontation of “Bad Blood” to the delicate “This Love” to the Lana Del Ray retro-noir of “Wildest Dreams.” Taylor still flirts playfully at times, as on “How You Get the Girl,” but more often she comes off as more guarded, more apprehensive and more realistic in her views on relationships.
Heavy on bass, drum loops and electronic sounds and using harmonic vocals as a form of rhythm, Swift mixes beats and melody in search of a classic pop model. She ignores modern pop’s reliance on guest stars to explore the many ways she can use her own voice. At times she clips her words sharply against the beats, while still occasionally speaking words to establish intimacy. But she also opens and sings like she rarely has.
A couple of songs come off as generic exercises, especially the arrangement of “I Know Places.” Still, “1989” is another triumph for Swift — not a precocious achievement, as in her early years, but a mature reflection of where she is now, in her life and in her artistry.
Michael McCall / Associated Press
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