I bought Taylor Swift's newest album on Monday and I'm sneaking a review/discussion of it into the blog because, hey, Taylor Swift is like... she's like the Sarah Dessen of the music business.
The album as a whole is, not gonna lie, pretty impressive. She has some serious writing chops and the sound of this album is a bit different than her last. It's a mix of country, pop, and what radio stations will blandly call "soft rock." There's a few super-slow songs and one incredibly angry anthem (that I love) and together everything works really well.
1. Mine -
The radio completely overplays this song as far as I can tell and by the time the CD came out I was already sick of it. The sound is a lot like "Love Story" and really so is the "story" of the song. That aside, I'm actually listening to it now that I've got the full album, and it's a good song. Overplayed, a bit cliche, but definitely a strong song with solid writing.
2. Sparks Fly -
This is actually an earlier song. I found it on YouTube around the time her first album came out though it was never officially released until now. It sounds a bit like "Mine" and "Love Story" - her typical style, but the melody is slower and there's just something about it that really captures me. There are some incredible lines ("I'm captivated by you, baby, like a fireworks show") and on a personal note the song itself sounds like it fits perfectly in the novel I'm currently writing.
3. Back to December -
I have mixed feelings about this song. On the one hand it's incredibly beautiful, both the words and the melody, and on the other hand it just feels like there's something missing, at least for me. Maybe because with most of Taylor Swift's song there's something in them I can relate to, some line or image that sticks in my mind and touches my heart, but with this one there's nothing. It's beautiful, but the personal connection I have to so many of her songs just isn't there. That being said, objectively I have to admit that it might be one of the strongest songs on the album.
4. Speak Now -
I actually bought this song before the album came out and then proceeded to listen nonstop like a madman. I kind of, um, love it. There's a slightly different sound here that I can only describe as metallic, but not in a bad way, more like there are a lot of wind chimes around. That makes no sense. Apoloys. There are a few particularly great lines here ("It seems that I was uninvited by your lovely bride to be") and the song as a whole, though slow, has an energy to it that would usually only be found in a faster, higher voltage song. Plus the whole idea of "speak now..." at a wedding has always been really fascinating and interesting to me, so I love that there's a song about it.
5. Dear John -
OH. MY. GOODNESS. This song, it blows my mind. It's just so good, so powerful, so amazing. Taylor's writing is usually pretty spot-on, but with this song she just took it to a whole other level and every line is incredible. The song itself is probably the slowest (and longest) on the album, with lots of soft guitar chords and instrumentals to back up the brilliant vocals. Even if you don't buy the album, this is a song you should definitely give a listen to. It's quite possibly the best on the album.
6. Mean -
This is one of the faster, angrier songs on the album and the more I listen to it the better I like it. The tune and lyrics are wonderful and I don't really care "who" it's supposed to be about because as a song it stands alone as a very strong track. Also, I love that it's one of the more "country" songs on the album and that it doesn't exactly go along with her normal, expected sound.
7. The Story of Us -
On the one hand this kind of sounds exactly like "Mine," and "Love Story" - Taylor Swift's typical song and sound. But on the other hand there's something extra here, an energy that her other overplayed-on-the-radio songs don't have. So I'm still a little undecided on just how much I like it.
8. Never Grow Up -
With every album she comes out with there's always one song that makes me cry, and this is the crying song for this album. More than anything else, this sounds like a lullaby, and I love it. There's so much great about this one: the lyrics, the lullaby feeling of it, the vocals, the everything. It might not be the BEST song on the album, but it's definitely up there.
9. Enchanted -
I'm not so sure about this one. It's beautiful, sure, but it also sounds like the kind of song that could too-easily become annoying or overplayed. The sort of song that's easy to tune out and doesn't make a huge impact even when you do hear it. Part of the problem, I think, is that the song is so long and I sort of lose interest pretty on. That said, when I do really listen to it I realize how pretty the song really is, which is a lot pretty.
10. Better Than Revenge -
Uhhh. HOLY COW WHAT THE WHAAAAT!!?? This is a totally different sound than most of what she's done before; definitely the angriest song on the album and also easily one of the best. Imagine an Avril Lavigne song written by Taylor Swift and you have "Better Than Revenge." There are some lines that are absolutely hilarious and great and so great. (That said and as much as I love this song I hope that I'm never able to say of myself, "There is nothing I do better than revenge.") (But really, credit where credit's due - Taylor Swift is AWESOME AT REVENGE. AND ALSO SONGS.)
11. Innocent -
Alright, I really love this song. I think it's great. The sound is quiet and slow and a bit like "Enchanted," except catchier. I think it's a song everyone can relate to and I don't care what or who it was written about; it's a great song, period.
12. Haunted -
I've listened to this song at least five times already and it has made absolutely no impact on me. It's pretty, I guess, but I couldn't pick it out of a line up and there's really nothing to say about it, sadly. (I really don't know why I have no thoughts on it, but I always forget it exists.)
13. Last Kiss -
Most of the songs on this album are kind of long and on a lot of them it works, but this is another, like "Enchanted," where it could have stood to be a bit shorter. It's a slow-moving, very pretty song, but one you actually have to listen to in order to hear it. It's an incredibly unobtrusive song.
14. Long Live -
This song isn't exactly a different sound for Taylor Swift, but it's definitely more mature. Another really, really great song that's kind of quiet and unobtrusive, at least until you get to the chorus. The song is amazing and I could be wrong, but I think it might be the first of her songs to deal with this subject. Whatever it is, I adore it. SO MUCH SO MUCH SO MUCH LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. MANY HEARTS. <3 <3 <3
On the whole, this is an incredible album. I'd describe it as enchanting. Definitely better than her second (Fearless) and maybe even better than her self-titled debut, which I loved from the first time I heard "Tim McGraw."
Best Songs: "Dear John" and "Back to December"
Worst Songs: "Mine" and "Haunted"
My Favorites, In Order:
- Long Live
- Better Than Revenge
- Dear John
- Never Grow Up
- Speak Now
- Sparks Fly
- The Story of Us
- Last Kiss
- Back to December