‘The Tortured Poet’s Department’: An honest review

Taylor Swift released her 11th studio album ‘The Tortured Poet’s Department’ on April 18. What do Griffin Gazette staff think?
After a monumental Eras Tour, Taylor Swift has released a brand new album with a new, moody twist to her songs.
After a monumental Era’s Tour, Taylor Swift has released a brand new album with a new, moody twist to her songs.
Riley Silverman

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — Taylor Swift recently released her new album “The Tortured Poets Department” (TTPD) to great acclaim. This release marks her 11th studio album and became the most pre-saved album countdown page in Spotify history. In succession to the 15 other tracks, Swift dropped titled “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology.” Additionally, it was marked as the biggest pop album of all time by First Day Streams on Apple Music. Featured below are honest reviews from our staff about her album’s songs. 

“Fortnight” (Feat. Post Malone) – Owen Silverman

The opening track of the album, “Fortnight,” starts off with a slower tempo and an electronic feel with the strong use of synthesizers. The song references one of Swift’s shorter relationships, but fans debate over who she is referencing in the song. I believe that the track is about Matty Healy because of the repeating line “I touched you for only a fortnight,” which is indicative of her relationship with Healy, only lasting a few months. 

This track also has Post Malone featured on it and is one of the two songs with a featured artist on it. Malone’s presence is definitely a positive addition to the track as his vocals work with Swift’s to bring more emotion and energy into the song, although I am a little upset that he didn’t help produce the song as I feel it would have added an extra layer of depth to the instrumentals.

“The Tortured Poets Department”- Katie Arnoult 

I’m no die-hard Swiftie, and I don’t know any of the “lore,” but I enjoy listening to Taylor Swift, and I was looking forward to this new album. I found that the single “The Tortured Poets Dept” references Swift’s relationship with Matty Healy. In the song, both Swift and Healy are the “tortured poets” because of their complex relationship and emotional hurt, which I think is such an original way to describe a breakup.

Personally, I had mixed feelings after listening. I’m not sure how I feel about the background percussion mixed with a synthesized soundtrack; it feels like they don’t really add to the song. It’s Swift’s voice that does all of the work for this song, with lyrics that flow together really well. Additionally, I feel like the chorus’ notes were overly repetitive and unoriginal. Overall, I found the song to be disappointingly boring. It’s not exactly the best song of the album, but I guess that’s okay, since there are 30 other songs to listen to!

“My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” – Kalea Davies

Taylor Swift does it again! She never fails to impress me with her talent for storytelling, especially with the third track of her new album. This song broadcasts the complexities of relationships through her signature style of vocals and emotional delivery. The lyrics are clear, introspective, and especially heartbreaking considering the supposed hidden meaning of her breakup with Joe Alwyn.

Fans theorize that the lyrics, “Should’ve known it was a matter of time” and “Cause you should’ve seen him / When he first saw me,” are about Alwyn when they first met and when the doubt of their relationship started to kick in. Supposedly, Alwyn and Swift first met at the Met Gala and in her song “Dress” she also mentions when Joe Alwyn first met her “…when [he had a] buzzcut and [her] hair bleached.” Even without analyzing the lyrics of her song, anyone could tell that this song will be stuck in our heads for days.

“Down Bad”- Jasmine Lee 

In track four of the album, Swift sings about her passionate but fleeting love in which she proclaims that her infatuation with him will destroy her. Through her dramatic lyrics, she tells a story of desperation and depression as if her lover is out of reach. The major heartbreak that she experiences is linked to her short-lived relationship with Matty Healy. Many lyrics such as “like I lost my twin” hint at a major connection between the two that ended in major heartbreak and despair for Swift.

I personally loved this song because of the incredibly heartfelt lyrics in which any listener can tell that Swift’s relationship details relatable and realistic feelings of a relationship’s aftermath. The song is constantly on repeat for me as the painful lyrics are apparent within her singing as she often experiences a vocal break when she sings “How dare you say that it’s-”, something that displays major emotion simultaneously with sadness and depression.

“So long, London”- Katie Arnoult

I think this is one of my favorite songs on the album, and definitely not what I was expecting! This song is meant to be the opposite of Swift’s 2019 song “London Boy,” which I think is an interesting move. Listening to this song, I nearly got goosebumps when I heard the slow repetitive harmony of the phrase “So long, London.” From the lyrics, I can feel the narrator’s exhaustion, grief, and tragedy. I loved the use of metaphors, from “CPR” to “dying on the altar,” to further illustrate the experience the narrator is going through. The slow lyrics and the fast soundtrack create varying emotions at the same time- sadness, tension, and anger- which is how a breakup should be portrayed in a song. This song overall satisfied me from the beginning! I loved its raw emotion, poetic lyrics, and instrumentals, and how it all tied together into one great song. 

“But Daddy I Love Him”- Issy Steinberg

Honestly, I wasn’t completely hooked on the song until the third time I listened to it. I looked up the lyrics and really made myself pay attention to all of the details, and now it’s in my top 10 favorites of the album (that doesn’t make it sound great, but there are 31 songs, so chill). The song has a catchy and kind-of funny chorus, and I can see it playing on the radio and getting stuck in everyone’s head, which is exactly what a good song does. 

Many people think that this song is about Travis Kelce or Matty Healy (ugh), but when the tracklist was initially announced, I saw the title: “But Daddy I Love Him” (BDILH), and my thoughts went straight to Harry Styles. Styles was seen wearing a shirt in 2020 with that exact line, and now his fanbase wears the same sloganed shirt. Swift and Styles (aka mother and father) dated for a little bit in 2012 and 2013, and multiple Styles-related songs were released in Swift’s “1989″ album. I was so excited to finally get some closure from their breakup with this song, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed. In the chorus of “BDILH,” Swift sings “I’m havin’ his baby / No, I’m not, but you should see your faces” which isn’t only funny, but lines up exactly with Style’s song “Kiwi,” where his chorus says “…I think she said / I’m having your baby / It’s none of your business.” Coincidence? I think not…

“Fresh Out The Slammer”- Issy Steinberg

I absolutely love this song and everything that comes with it. It starts off slow with a beautiful instrumental intro, and then you get the mind-boggling lyrics. Based on what Swift sings in the song, I feel like this is both a breakup song and an explanation, all in one. 

Swift was rumored to be in a flirtatious friendship with Matty Healy in 2015, and later in a relationship with him in 2023. In between, Swift was in a 6 year relationship with Joe Alwyn (aka the face of the entire “Lover” album. Their split broke me, but at least we got some good songs out of it!). In the chorus of “Fresh Out The Slammer” (FOTS), Swift sings “Fresh out the slammer, I know who my first call will be to,” possibly implying that her relationship with Alwyn was ‘the slammer’ and she will go back to her last resort: Healy (can you tell I’m not a fan?). “FOTS” also has a lyric in the beautiful bridge that says “Wearing imaginary rings,” which leads me to think of her song “Paper Rings” off of her “Lover” album. Again, Joe Alwyn.

“Florida!!!” (Feat. Florence + The Machine) – Owen

I think that “Florida!!!” was one of the worst songs off of the album because I felt as though it didn’t fit the vibe of the album. This was her second song with a featured artist, this time being Florence + The Machine. Despite being a fan of Florence + The Machine, I think that their place in the song did not match Swift’s other songs on the album and interrupted the flow.

The song references swift escaping from her problems by going to Florida. Lines such as “take me to Florida / I’ve got some regrets, I’ll bury them in Florida” reference her need to escape her problems by going to an idyllic place. Swift later states “Florida, is one hell of a drug” which demonstrates how she got “addicted” to running away from her problems to protect herself.

“Guilty as Sin?”- Reese Neiger

“Guilty as Sin” was one of my favorites on the whole album! It’s a nice mix of slow pace but upbeat music with a drum beat to get you on your feet. This song showcases the phase of the first parts of her relationship and the feelings it gave her. This song reminded me of her “Lover” album with the idea of romanticizing parts of relationships. This song really feels like a relatable piece like a lot of Taylor’s music. I loved this song and would strongly recommend it.

“Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”- Sydney Forsyte

In my opinion, this song was one of the most lyrically intense songs on this album and really showcased Swift’s frequent use of symbolism and storytelling. Swift discusses the paralyzing fears and anxieties that come with being hounded by the media, as she has been. In lyrics like “If you wanted me dead you should’ve just said,” Swift is discussing how the media has been highly critical in the past, and may even be referencing critical coverage of an ill-fated relationship with singer Matty Healy, who was known for sexist and racist remarks. 

Throughout the song, there are references to feeling broken as a result of the actions of others which seems to be a theme of this album, like in “I can do it with a broken heart.” Lyrics like “Put narcotics into all of my songs / And that’s why you’re still singin’ along” make her bridge stand out to me as the real pinnacle of the song and a way for Swift to show that she may have been broken, but it has only made her stronger. Overall, this song is a vengeful, fantastic masterpiece of a song, and I really enjoyed it.

“I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)”- Sydney Forsyte

In this song, Swift discusses a romance that, from the outside, seems like a trainwreck waiting to happen as Swift’s partner is deemed unworthy of her and a bad person. However, Swift for most of the song remains certain that she can fix him as “He had a halo of the highest gradе / He just hadn’t met me yеt.” Up until the last line, Swift remains confident in her skills until she sings abruptly “I can fix him, no, really, I can / Woah, maybe I can’t.” 

Many fans believe that this song was referencing her previous controversial relationship with Matty Healy, which garnered significant backlash from fans who dislike Healy for his offensive behavior. I really found this song to be really interesting as, at the start, it almost seems like Swift is defending her choice to date this person, but, by the ending, she admits to listeners that she was wrong about her choice to date this man, while still not apologizing to anyone for not listening to outward criticism from those not actually in her relationship (as she should).

“loml”- Kalea Davies

After listening to “loml” a few times, it has become clear to me that this is my absolute favorite song of the album! This song really demonstrates Swift’s talent as a lyricist because of her brilliant use of antanaclasis. Antaclasis it is the repetition of a phrase, but the following instance utilizes a contrary meaning. Swift uses this when she sings the phrase “I’m the love of your life” numerous times, but, at the end of the song, she changes the word “love” so it becomes “the loss of my life.” 

Throughout the song you could feel the grief of her lost relationship. Fans say that the song alludes to her past relationship with Joe Alwn or Matty Healy. I personally believe that it’s about Alwyn, but there is no confirmation of who it is about. The song gave me a lot of “Folklore” vibes, which is one of my favorite albums of hers! She never fails to write beautifully crafted lyrics while still being catchy and easy to follow. Overall, Swift continues to confirm her rightful place at the top of the music industry with her wonderful new album. 

“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”- Jaya Eapen

With Taylor Swift’s lucky number being 13, “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” the 13th track of the album definitely has a different feel to it. Unlike the majority of the songs on the album (that were extremely depressing), “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” had an upbeat start with fireworks in the background. The first verse starts with “There in her glittering prime / the lights refract sequin stars off her silhouette every night / I can show you lies.” Describing her flashy, sequined costumes from her recent tour, it was clear that this song was detailing her melancholy perspective that fans had never before seen. 

The best parts of the song in my opinion were the chorus line “I’m so depressed I act like it’s my birthday everyday” and the outro, “cause I’m miserable / and no one even knows,” because of the stark contrast between the upbeat background and the distressing gravity of the lyrics. Personally, the lyrics made me especially sad because of how they poetically twist the usually joyful Eras Tour into Swift’s depressing experience. As the song ended with Swift’s unapologetic “try and come for my job” she once again gave her fans a radio ready song to jam to — even if the lyrics make all of us want to cry. 

“The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”- Reese Neiger

I had mixed feelings about this song. The song was slow paced but had a tension that eventually built up to a strong bridge which felt a little underwhelming. I loved the ending of the song and wish she would have had that energy in the beginning of the song. I would recommend this to anyone who likes slow paced songs.  

“The Alchemy”- Jaya Eapen

When I first heard the title “The Alchemy,” I imagined the song to have a lot of metaphoric references to the complex ideas of chemistry, so I was slightly disappointed when I heard Swift singing about football. As Swift sings “Where’s the trophy? / He just comes running over to me” many people speculate that the song is referring to her current boyfriend Travis Kelce because of how similar the lyrics are to Swift running onto the field after the Chief’s recent Super Bowl win. Personally, it was a little hard to accept this speculation because it feels too obvious compared to Swift’s usual clue-ridden lyrics. 

Although Swift’s catchy chorus and deep lyrics seem like a recipe for success, “The Alchemy”  was not one of my personal favorites. I felt like the instrumentals were a little boring and not comparable to her other songs on her album.

“Clara Bow”- Jasmine Lee

In the closing track, Swift sings, “Clara Bow,” about her love that she compares to the iconic it-girl, Clara Bow. Bow is best remembered as an Old Hollywood movie actress during the 1920’s and would become one of the biggest icons of the century; later earning the title, “It Girl.” Bow notably was incredibly charismatic and fell in love often, later becoming a target for gossip columns by the public as her private life was of scandalous interest by the public. 

This song was my favorite in the whole album due to the clean and calm nature of the song while the lyrics speak of passion in love as she draws parallels to both of their highly publicized and criticized lives. Overall, the song has fallen under the radar of the public, however, my personal favorites of Swift tend to be love songs that make thematic references, explaining my natural attraction to this song.

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