The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Taylor Swift polarizes audiences with new album

SSU students share their thoughts on “The Tortured Poets Department.”
Marivella Torres
The Tortured Poets Department” vinyl plays on SSU library turntable

  On Friday, April 19, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her eleventh full-length studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department.” The album’s 16-track standard edition, which embraces synth-pop and folk-pop genres, includes collaborations with recording artist Post Malone and indie rock band Florence + the Machine. 

 Swift followed up the standard release with the addition of “The Anthology,” a double album containing 15 bonus tracks. The supplementary songs hearken back to Swift’s “Folklore” and “Evermore” days, predominantly composed of the indie folk fundamentals that defined the aforementioned albums musically.

    The album’s songwriting is cathartic, taking an introspective approach to Swift’s conflicting public and private life. Lyrically, “The Tortured Poets Department” incorporates self-awareness and vulnerability with humor and wit. During Swift’s Oceania leg for the Eras Tour in February, the singer described the album’s creation as necessary. “It sort of reminded me of why songwriting gets me through life,” Swift said.

    Last Thursday, Swift rearranged the Eras Tour’s setlist at the start of the tour’s European leg in Paris. The setlist consists of the songs, “But Daddy I Love Him,” “So High School,” “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?,” “Down Bad,” “Fortnight,” “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,” and “I Can Do It With A Broken Heart.”

    Several students at SSU lauded “The Tortured Poets Department” upon its release. Anahi Guzman described the album as, “raw, passionate and heart-wrenching.” The fourth-year sociology major particularly praised the electropop track “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” a song that describes the dichotomy of Swift’s inner turmoil and diligent work ethic. Guzman’s connection with the song derives from the lyric, “I cry a lot, but I am so productive, it’s an art,” which Guzman felt resonated with her circumstances as an upcoming college graduate enduring final exams. 

    Sophia Brown acclaimed Swift’s lyricism in the album. Brown, a third-year communication major, is a self-proclaimed “newfound Swiftie” and described “The Tortured Poets Department” as a lyrical masterpiece. “[The album] provides various vibes throughout each song,” Brown said. 


Taylor once again proved that she’s a lyrical genius because of how she uniquely writes about her experiences and feelings into a song

— Natalia Casas

Natalia Casas, a third-year early childhood education major, highlighted the rhythm and catchiness of the track “Fresh Out the Slammer,” comparing it to “Clean,” a song from Swift’s 2014 album, “1989.” “Taylor once again proved that she’s a lyrical genius because of how she uniquely writes about her experiences and feelings into a song,” Casas said.

    Media response to “The Tortured Poets Department” contrasts the album’s favorable reception on campus. Publications such as Rolling Stone, Elle, and Business Insider have described the album’s reception as “polarized” among critics and fans alike. 

    According to review aggregator Metacritic, “The Tortured Poets Department” reached a score of 76 out of 100, paling compared to Swift’s previous album “Midnights,” which averaged 85. While Line of Best Field’ journalist Paul Bridgewater referred to the album as Swift’s most cohesive, the BBC’s Mark Savage criticized the album as monotonous. An anonymous review in the entertainment magazine Paste condemned “The Tortured Poets Department” as unrelatable, exclaiming that “Sylvia Plath didn’t stick her head in an oven for this.”

    Swift, whom Time Magazine named as 2023’s “Person of the Year,” managed to turn heads at every corner, with her frequent album releases, world touring, and relationships accentuating her heightened fame. The mixed reception of “The Tortured Poets Department” exemplifies Swift’s cultural relevance and possibly serves as a counter-response to the singer’s media exposure. However, one thing is certain: Swift will not be far from our minds anytime soon.

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About the Contributors
Christian Core
Christian Core, Staff Writer
Christian Core is a third year communication major at Sonoma State.
Marivella Torres
Marivella Torres, Staff Writer
Marivella Torres is a third year communication studies major at Sonoma State.
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