thank god for taylor swift! we review her new album...

Taylor goes back to the future on her awesome new album 1989, swiftly silencing the critics in her wake…

by Hattie Collins
27 October 2014, 2:50pm

Hating Taylor Swift is like disliking a puppy. Or biscuits. Or a nice walk on the beach in the sun. If you don't like The Swift, we can't be friends. I mean, she biffed Harry Styles. She's mates with Karlie Kloss and they sometimes wear matching outfits. She bakes cakes with Selena Gomez. She's lovely to her fans. She made this awesome kid famous. And she writes really good songs. Like, really good songs. She called one of them Tim McGraw FFS.

The seven times Grammy winner now releases her fifth album at the age of 24 (she could chill out a bit on the overachieving tbf and tbh) and the vultures are circling. Previously feted as a songwriter who helped reverse Country music cliche and put Nashville back on the map, it seems some have had enough of Taylor Allison Swift. How dare she - a woman! - date her contemporaries? How dare she be pretty and smart and funny? The audacity of this woman to write her own music. Who Does Taylor Swift Think She Is? The depressingly predictable reactions to Swift only serve to highlight us all as the troll-loving, celebrity-obsessed, woman-resenting idiots that we are. (See also: Renee Zellwegger, J-Law etc etc).

Well, the scavengers will have to feed elsewhere for now because 1989 is a brilliant album. Haters gon' hate, writers gon' write and Taylor gon' sang. On the surface 1989 is bright and shiny and fun. But you don't have to scratch the surface too hard to reveal an acerbic, dark, deftly written record that is as complex as it is proudly pop. Swift's songwriting is Jane Austin for Generation Y (or whatever they're now called). It's so incredibly relatable and so sharply written that it makes you want to be 14, getting home from school today, having just bought it on iTunes, and playing it over and over again as you live-update your friends by Whatsapp. "OMG do u lv OOTWs samzing I lv lv lv it, kk gonna play more cu'. 

Blank Space epitomes the Swift school of songwriting brilliantly. As soon as the line is delivered - 'Oh my god, look at that face/ You look like my next mistake' - it's a wrap. Lyrics like this punctuate the record, cutting through the veneer of shiny synth and demanding drum patterns with wit and a slight of hand that is at times awe-inspiring. Swift manages to make simple sound so, so good. 1989 is acutely self-aware, but not self-consciously so. There's a song called How You Get The Girl that does exactly what it says on the tin; 15 year-old boys take note. Swift's got your back.

There's plenty for the gossip rags to focus on too; as has been widely reported, there is at least one - if not two - tracks dedicated to Styles. There's the superbly snarky Style and the more vulnerable All You Had To Do Was Stay. Katy Perry also "apparently" gets served on Bad Blood, which sees a screaming Swift somehow channel both The Clipse and Natasha Bedingfield. Straight gangsta.

Swift has spoken about drawing influence from the 80s; The Fine Young Cannibals can be found on the hair-flinging I Wish You Could, while Wildest Places has echoes of the Eurythmics. But 1989 is no pastiche collage of collected influences stitched together with cynical ears; 1989 is very much a Taylor Swift record. She's managed to make an album that feels familiar yet not quite anything else that has existed before. As one of our biggest pop stars, Swift should be applauded not derided. She writes! She sings! She laughs! She dates! Thank god for pop stars like Taylor Swift. The Top 40 would be really quite crap without her.

1989 is released today



Text Hattie Collins

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