In a Canva graphic, the album cover for The Tortured Poets Department is displayed. The first half of the album dropped at midnight on Apr. 19 and the second half at 2 a.m. This is Swifts 11th studio album. (Album cover by Beth Garrabrant).
In a Canva graphic, the album cover for ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ is displayed. The first half of the album dropped at midnight on Apr. 19 and the second half at 2 a.m. This is Swift’s 11th studio album. (Album cover by Beth Garrabrant).
Isabel Multer

Review: Taylor Swift releases The Tortured Poets Department, surprises fans at 2 a.m. with sister album

Swift records sister album TTPD: Anthology to original album

As the clock strikes midnight on April 19, 2024, Taylor Swift’s 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department” is released to the public. Two hours later, Swift released the second half of the album completely unannounced.

The Tortured Poets Department is already longer than an average album, with 16 tracks, and the 15 tracks on “The Anthology” bring the combined total to 31 songs. The album consists of a combination of different genres like synth-pop, rock, and folk. Swift also collaborated with various artists like Post Malone and Florence and the Machine.

Track 1: “Fortnight (ft. Post Malone)”

Isabel: 7/10

 Starting off strong, Swift sets the tone of the album with a chill yet emotional song. The lyrics are sorrowful, but the melody and beat really build up throughout the song. I absolutely loved Post Malone’s part of the song. I think he and Swift had really soft vocals that fit the vibe of the song perfectly. The music video for this song was released the day after the album release, and its videography was very cinematic and really lets you visualize the song which I loved.

“All my mornings are Mondays stuck in an endless February”

Track 2: “The Tortured Poets Department”

Sofia: 10/10

The Tortured Poets Department is the title track of the album. This song was excellent because of the music, lyrics, and artistry of the song. The song TTPD is reminiscent of songs on “folklore”, with various folk elements mixed with synth-pop. The song has saddening and sorrowful components in the lyrics about a past heartbreak. This track does not disappoint and is one of my favorite tracks in the album.

“I think some things I never say like ‘who uses typewriters anyways?'”

Track 3: “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys”

Erica: 8/10

The third song on the album conveys an upbeat melody that I enjoyed throughout the song. The lyrics include ideas of being a child and having a favorite toy and then it becomes broken and not wanted anymore. She uses this imagery to express a relationship with someone in the past. I enjoyed how Swift’s vocals shine at the end of every chorus which adds to the dramatic effect she is going for. The overall vibe of the song is one that I think many fans enjoy.

“Put me back on my shelf/ But first- pull the string/ And I’ll tell you that he runs/ Because he loves me”

Track 4: “Down Bad”

Isabel: 10/10

The lyrics in the song are rumored to be attributed to Swift’s past relationship with singer Matt Healy, which makes the song even more emotional and gives the lyrics more feeling. The beat of the song is very chill and the chorus is catchy, yet the lyrics are filled with passion even through Swift’s soft voice. The outro of this song is my favorite part, the way Swift layers her voice is almost angelic and creates a very heartfelt vibe.

“They’ll say I’m nuts if I talk about the existence of you/For a moment, I was heaven struck”

Track 5: “So Long, London”

Sofia: 7/10

The song starts with a whimsical, and upbeat tune, but incorporates slower and mellow notes as she sings the song. The song has lyrics like “When you’re not sure if he wants to be there” and “You swore that you loved me, but where were the clues?” hinting at the end of her relationship with her previous partner. The song is about saying goodbye to someone you were in a relationship with for a long time – various sources speculate this song is about her previous six-year relationship with Joe Alwyn. “So Long London” is one of her sadder songs on the album as she hints at the end of a chapter in her life she thought wouldn’t end. Although this track was not one of my favorites, I loved the lyrics and the way she expressed her emotions through the song.

“Thinking how much sad did you think I had, Did you think I had in me”

Track 6: “But Daddy I Love Him”

Erica: 10/10

Swift’s shifting vocals of lower to higher tones and the use of string instruments at the beginning and the build up to the chorus makes for a beautiful song. Through her lyrics, she expresses marrying someone who everyone thinks is not good for her, but being with him anyway and not giving in to the opinions of others. Her lyricism of love and marriage reminds me of a more grown-up version of her younger self from her “Fearless” album and in songs like “Love Story”. The vibe of this one is so playful and melodic. Her vocals in this song allow her country roots to shine, and the musicality compliments it perfectly making this my favorite song on the album.

“And no, you can’t come to the wedding/ I know it’s crazy but he’s the one I love”

Track 7: “Fresh Out The Slammer”

Isabel: 9/10

The lyrics of this song illustrate what it’s like leaving a relationship, attributing to Swift’s fallout with Joe Alwyn. The tone of the song and Swift’s vocals create a feeling of exhaustion when singing about having to leave something you put so much energy towards. The final lyric “But it’s gonna be alright, I did my time,” really show how Swift feels after recovering from a breakup. The chorus makes for an amazing sing-along song and is a very emotional track. Overall, this is one of my favorites as it has its slower verses with deep, specific lyrics, but also an upbeat chorus.

“Handcuffed to the spell I was under/For just one hour of sunshine”

Track 8: “Florida!!! (ft. Florence + The Machine)”

Sofia: 6/10

I love the variety of vocals from the various artists featured in this song. The suspenseful beats throughout the song add to the theme of the song. The song is about reinventing yourself and finding a new place. I enjoyed the vocals incorporated with the different artist and the musicality.

“So you pack your life away just to wait it out”

Track 9: “Guilty as Sin?”

Erica: 8/10

Right from the beginning the fun intro tune sets the charismatic tone for the rest of the song. My interpretation of Swift’s lyrics in this song represents the fantasy and longing to be with someone. The lyrics “I keep recalling things we never did/Without ever touching his skin/ How can I be guilty as sin?” allude to her questioning if the thoughts she has in her head about this person should be wrong and if she should feel guilty for them. I really like how her vocals on this track go from softer tones to higher tones and sustained ones throughout the verse and the chorus that complement the beat of the melody. 

“My boredom’s bone deep/This cage was once just fine/Am I allowed to cry?”

Track 10: “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”

Isabel: 8/10

This song is a fan-favorite by many, as its lyrics address how independent and confident Swift is in a very artistic way. I interpret the story Swift writes in this song as how Swift remains confident in herself in a world with so many eyes on her looking to stir up her life. The way the beat builds up in this song is very fierce, and I love the way Swift switches up the tempo throughout the song, it definitely keeps me on my toes. The notes of the chorus tied with the confrontational lyrics make for an amazing song, definitely on my top 10 from the album.

“You caged me, and then you called me crazy/I am what I am ’cause you trained me”

Track 11: “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)”

Sofia: 6/10

This track begins with a folk melody with layers of guitar and synth. “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)” is very similar to the tracks on her ninth album, “evermore.” The song is about trying to fix problems in a relationship with her significant other, and realizing that it’s not possible to change a person. This song was one of the slower ones on the album, and connect to the tracks relating to heartbreak.

“I can fix him, no really I can, WOAH – maybe I can’t.”

Track 12: “loml”

Erica: 7/10

“loml” is one of the most heartbreaking on the album. Swift changes the original meaning of ‘loml’ from ‘love of my life’ to ‘loss of my life’ to represent a break-up and a past partner that left her disappointed and who she thought would be the love of her life. Through the lyrics, she references times when her and this partner tried to make amends several times but ultimately ended in a split. There is a soft piano melody that accompanied Swift’s melancholy pitch that goes really well together. This song is a bit slower but is one I enjoyed listening to.

“Talking rings and talking cradles/ I wish I could un-recall/ How we almost had it all”

Track 13: “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”

Isabel: 9/10

This song has been a fan favorite as its lyrics attribute to Swift’s hidden feelings she experienced during her successful “Eras Tour” over the last year. This song is super unique as the lyrics talk about feelings of depression and feeling overwhelmed, yet the chorus is super upbeat and the tune of the song is completely happy which is a really cool contrast. One of my favorite features of this song is a faint “one, two, three” before the chorus is taken from the countdown Swift hears in her earpiece when performing, adding to the song’s message of the struggles she has endured. 

“All the pieces of me shattered/As the crowd was chanting “More!”

Track 14: “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”

Sofia: 8/10

The melody of this song starts off slow and builds up to the bridge of the track. I enjoy how this song builds up the peak and the way it starts off as a slower song. The song is about a past relationship that didn’t work out, and Swift’s questioning if their relationship was ever real. After listening to this song a few times, I really liked it and I love the build-up to the end of the song, it reminds me of some of her previous songs like “Out of the Woods” in “1989” because of the way the storyline of the lyrics build from the start of the song to the end.

“I just want to know/If rusting my sparkling summer/ was the goal”

Track 15: “The Alchemy”

Erica: 9/10

The subtle beat of the music reminds me of a heartbeat which represents Swift’s feeling of finding someone who she feels she is meant to be with. The use of instrumentation throughout the song allows Swift’s vocals to stand out which I really love. The lyricism throughout has caused fans to speculate that this song is about Swift’s current partner, Travis Kelce. The lyrics “These blokes warm the benches/We’ve been on a winning streak” allude to the idea of Kelce making it to the Superbowl earlier this year and winning, but also expressing her feelings for having found the one and that this this love is rare. I love the intro and outro lyrics, and this song is definitely one of my favorites on the album.

“This happens once every few lifetimes/These chemicals hit me like white wine”

Track 16: “Clara Bow”

Isabel: 6/10

Taylor Swift and Aaron Dessner’s musical style with this song was not my favorite, but I love the connection between old Hollywood star, Clara Bow, and Swift herself. The lyrics illustrate a small-town girl becoming a star which is a parallel I love between Swift and Clara Bow. However, the instrumentals are very soft, and there is not much special about the composition of this song so it is not my favorite on the album.

“Beauty is a beast that roars/Down on all fours/Demanding, “More”

Track 17: “The Black Dog”

Sofia: 9/10

The song starts off with soft piano, and somber lyrics about missing a significant other, and the relationship that they had. In the song, Swift sings “I am someone who until recent events/You shared your secrets with,” these lyrics contribute to the theme of the song which is reminiscing past events of a relationship, and her questioning if her previous partner is feeling the same way after they broke up. The use of piano and soft melody with a hint of rock in the middle of the song adds to the storyline.

“I move through the world with a broken heart”

Track 18: “imgonnagetyouback”

Erica: 7/10

The vibe of this song reminds me of her 10th studio album “Midnights” that includes electro and synth–pop elements. She references colors such as the color gray in her lyrics. The lyrics “Bygones will be bygones eras fading into gray” and this lyric “My face was gray but you wouldn’t admit that we were sick” from her vault track on “Midnight’s”, “I’m Losing You” connect and allude to the idea of her conflicted mind throughout the song after she has lost the relationship with this person. The overall melody and whimsical tone makes this one fun to listen to.

“Told my friends I hate you, but I love you just the same”

Track 19: “The Albatross”

Isabel: 8/10

This song gives major “evermore” vibes, with lyrics that create a mystical vibe. The guitar instrumentals are so calming, and the chorus throughout the song is very enjoyable with Swift’s higher-pitched vocals really shining. The lyrics bring light to the harsh perceptions the media has had on Swift which I think Swift addressed so beautifully. The peaceful vibe of this song makes it one of my favorites on the album. 

“Locked me up in towers/But I’d visit in your dreams”

Track 20: “Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus”

Sofia: 7/10

The lyrics of the song represent the “what if’s” of past relationships. The song is rumored to be about different relationships and Swift sings about different situations that could’ve changed the outcome of their relationship. This song ties back with one of Swift’s song “Maroon” on her album ‘Midnights’ that she released in Oct. 2022. In this song she sings “Will that make your memory fade from this scarlet maroon?” and in her song ‘Maroon’ Swift sings “And the blood rushed into my cheeks, so scarlet, it was (maroon).” In this track, Swift continues the stories and feelings from her song ‘Maroon,’ and describes how those old memories are fading.

“And if you want to tear my whole world apart/say you’ll always wonder”

Track 21: “How Did It End?”

Erica: 6/10

The piano intro creates a somber and wistful tone for this heart-wrenching song. Swift uses elements of death to express her past relationship. When she asks, “How Did It End” it creates a feeling of shock and disbelief for how the relationship ended similar to how losing a loved one would be and then the grievances that come with it. Her wistful vocals allude to a ghost and the feeling of her lingering pain from her heartbreak. There is a subtle use of the violin between the second chorus and the bridge that creates even more of that feeling of sorrow. Although I enjoy the subtle musicality it is a bit slow for me, and not one of my favorites. 

“My beloved ghost and me/Sitting in a tree/ D-Y-I-N-G”

Track 22: “So High School”

Isabel: 8/10

I get very early 2000s high school movie vibes with this track, and I think it’s pretty unique on the album. The Travis Kelce easter eggs are all over this song and I think it’s adorable. Referencing a Kelce interview talking about Swift, there is the lyric “Are you gonna marry, kiss or kill me?” and even the initials “TK” and “TS” are highlighted in the song’s lyric video. This has been another track loved by fans, as it talks about the pure feelings of high school relationships.

“Truth, dare, spin bottles/You know how to ball, I know Aristotle”

Track 23: “I Hate It Here”

Sofia: 8/10

This song is part of the 15 bonus tracks on the TTPD: Anthology. The song is mellow, and somber as she sings about unhappiness and discontent. The song is about not being able to find a place that feels like home. Swift sings “I hate it here so I will go to secret garden in my mind” The lyrics represent the way she feels like her mind is a place she can escape to, and it doesn’t have to feel like anything. I really liked the lyrics of the song and the imagery Swift incorporates in her music.

“I hate it here so I will go to/Secret gardens in my mind/People need a key to get to/The only one is mine”

Track 24: “thanK you aIMee”

Erica: 7/10

One of my favorite features of this song is the use of the guitar. I like that she created a more folk-tune vibe like what we have seen in her “folklore” album. I notice that throughout the album there are some songs that give a country or folk tune vibe which I love. The lyrics “All that time you were throwing punches/I was building something” mean that even though someone was constantly tearing her down, she was creating a masterpiece in the background. She thanks the person who berated her because she came out of it stronger. 

“But when I count the stars, there’s a moment of truth/That there wouldn’t be this if there hadn’t been you”

Track 25: “I Look in People’s Windows”

Isabel: 5/10

This track is the shortest on the album, and for that reason along with its overall simplicity, I would not rank it very high. There is not very much special about the musicality of this song, and there is really no bridge on the song – usually one of the best parts of Swift’s songs. Yes, the lyrics are deep and meaningful, but at times it feels like one run-on sentence, so I don’t think this will be one of Swift’s hits.

“Does it feel alright to not know me?/I’m addicted to the “if only”

Track 26: “The Prophecy”

Sofia: 9/10

The track starts off with the strums of a guitar and a soft melody. The song is about hope for finding love again, or if her destiny is to end up alone. Swift sings “Please/I’ve been on my knees/Change the prophecy/Don’t want money/Just someone who wants my company,” The lyrics express her feelings about love and waiting to find the right person.

“Don’t want money/Just someone who wants my company/Let it once be me”

Track 27: “Cassandra”

Erica: 6/10

 This is another track that reminds me a lot of “folklore”. Swift portrays herself through the character Cassandra who has been accused of something she didn’t do. She sings, “they set my life in flames, I regret to say/ Do you believe me now” alluding to the idea that when she tried to defend herself there were those who didn’t believe her. The message and the pitch of the lower vocals express the deep pain Swift experienced as she recalls this time in the past and you can hear the passion in her voice. I do wish that there would have been a unique approach to the musicality because I didn’t feel it was all that special which is why I ranked it lower.

“When the truth comes out, it’s quiet/ So quiet”

Track 28: “Peter”

Isabel: 8/10

This song really highlights Swift’s amazing ballad writing talents, with a soft piano and emotional lyrics about a potential relationship in comparison to staying young, referencing Peter Pan. Fans also speculate this song relates to the lyric “Peter losing Wendy” in “Cardigan” on the “folklore” album. I love the lyrics of this song and the story Swift writes about losing a lover, and the references to Peter Pan really elevate the imagery of this song. This is one of the most downhearted songs of the album that can definitely bring on some tears.

 “We both did the best we could do under the same moon/In Different galaxies”

Track 29: “The Bolter”

Sofia: 10/10

The guitar intro and upbeat vocals set the tone for the song. The track is about running away from relationships, and not committing. In the song, Swift nicknames a girl ‘The Bolter’ – representing the theme of the song. I enjoyed listening to this track and the different styles she used compared to the other songs that were more of synth-pop. This was one of the few songs where she incorporated an acoustic guitar for the entire song.

Excellent fun ’til you get to know her/Then she runs like it’s a race”

Track 30: “Robin”

Erica: 9/10

As I listened to this song over and over I realized the deeper meaning behind the lyrics that Swift is so talented at portraying through her artistry. The nostalgia and feelings of being a careless child is what resonated with me. The chorus in this song is so unique and playful just like a young kid. The title of the song “Robin” reminds me of the character Christopher Robin and the song mentions animals such as a tiger. It represents all the wonderful aspects of being a child that you don’t realize before you grow up. The message of the song and nostalgic harmony along with Swift’s softer vocals make it one of my favorite’s.

“You got the dragonflies above your bed/ You have a favorite spot on the swing set”

Track 31: “The Manuscript” 

Isabel: 7/10

“The Manuscript” is honestly the perfect closer to this album, as it captures the somber vibe of the album and the lyrics wrap up the theme of losing a relationship. I will say the actual musical composition of this song does not stick out on the album but as a closer wrapping up the album it fits perfectly. The final lyric “Now and then I re-read the manuscript/But the story isn’t mine anymore” is so powerful to conclude the stories of the album, and the poetry of this song and the album overall is an amazing talent Swift has displayed. 

“Looking backwards might be the only way/To move forward”

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