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Posted on
Apr 19, 2024

‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Review Roundup

Taylor might be the self-proclaimed “Chairman of the Tortured Poets Department,” but judging by these songs, business is booming. It’s the cathartic confession of a woman who thought she had adulthood — and adult romance — all figured out, only to find herself realizing she knows nothing. From “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” to “Fortnight” to “Clara Bow,” these thirtysomething break-up tales are new turf for her. She sounds confused, bitter, raging, vulnerable, yet more gloriously chaotic than we’ve ever heard her before. 

Rolling Stone

The whole album is a terrific reminder of the intense, personal connection Swift can conjure in song. She fills arenas and dominates the news agenda because listeners can relate to her starry dramas – her tales endow their own experiences with new electricity. She sets marriage hopes and unrealistic sexual fantasies within terrifically empowered stories. Whether fans are shaking off their own Joe Alwyns, shagging their own Matty Healys or cheering on their own Travis Kelces, the archetypes are neatly nailed. The worst men really do leave some women with the best lines.

The Independent

Ultimately, this may be Swift’s most Swiftian album: the unhappiness profound, the details generous, the lessons absorbed. We reward Taylor Swift – one of the giants of popular song – handsomely to conduct postmortems on her affairs and extract value: vengeance and wisdom, dopamine hits and succour. The Alchemy is a song about, yes, an old love, but Swift makes gold out of processing her romantic travails. She is sitting on a glittering pile of it here.

The Guardian

“The Tortured Poets Department” feels like it comes the closest of any of her 11 original albums to just drilling a tube directly into her brain and letting listeners mainline what comes out. If you value this confessional quality most of all, she’s still peaking: As a culmination of her particular genius for marrying cleverness with catharsis, “Tortured” kind of feels like the Taylor Swift-est Taylor Swift record ever.


The LP turns out to be something of a heel turn; it’s got a proudly villainous energy as Swift embraces her messiest and most chaotic tendencies. …. All this lore — it’s a lot. Yet “The Tortured Poets Department” also showcases Swift’s gifts as a songwriter, musician and producer. Her melodies are sticky and her arrangements grabby; working in the studio with Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, she’s honed an electro-acoustic style that’s instantly identifiable.

Los Angeles Times

The Tortured Poets Department is an aesthetic triumph – who knew books and sad bangers could go together so well? But more than that it is a new chapter in Swift’s ongoing quest for pop perfection and a record brimming with moments to beguile fans new and old.


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