In her newest album, Reputation, Taylor Swift bids goodbye to the days of “riding shotgun with her hair undone.” Swift’s sixth studio album, is a self-aware examination of life away from the spotlight. For most of the year before Reputation’s release, Swift spent her time off of social media and had dropped out of the mainstream gossip news cycle.
The result of this self-inflicted media isolation is an album that’s darker and more introspective than anything the country-pop star has ever produced. Unfortunately, the debut single off the album, “Look What You Made Me Do,” which seemed to be an anthem of self-pity, is a weak representation of the emotional vulnerability that Reputation explores.
Reputation builds on the synthetic-pop sounds that ///1989// debuted but, thematically, the album is an ode to the darker and more intimate side of love. In “Dress,” Taylor sings, “I only bought this dress so you could take it off.” The singer swears for the first time in “I Did Something Bad:” “If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing.” These songs are filled with allusions to the mundane, every-day, messy reality that is loving someone. Rather than singing of grandiose love affairs and excruciating heartbreak,
Taylor is choosing to follow the small moments, both good and bad, that make up real-life love stories. “New Year’s Day” perfectly embodies this reflection and examines life after the clock strikes midnight. The reality, of course, is that relationships are more about “cleaning up bottles” than extravagant parties.
Maybe the most telling line of the album, however, comes from “Call It What You Want” as Taylor sings “Nobody’s heard from me in months / I’m doing better than I ever was”. As a singer nearing her 30s, Taylor is allowing herself to grow up and prove that her identity—and reputation—are more than what we see in the tabloids.