The country girl has gone all pop on us with her new album 1989. Or that’s what the media moguls want you to think; quite frankly she was pretty damn poppy on her last multi-million selling record, Red. Not that it matters much, as Miss Swift seems to be able to get her unique blend of trials, tribulations and heartache out equally well, whether it be a country ballad or an 80s tinged floor filler. Using her time wisely, writing songs of pain and emotions and fitting in some happy moments along the way, the Swift music making machine finally lands us at a moment in time where her new record is released on the world, but does it stand up to the plethora of other 80s synth pop albums out there?
Taylor’s had a little more help than usual when putting this record together, and it really shows – in a good way. If she was going to make a pure pop record she needed the help of the big wigs of the day, and just realising this is credit to the young singer, especially as she’s used to doing things the way she wants. Most noticeable is the influence of Fun’s Jack Antonoff on Tracks Blank Space and Out of the Woods, the former with Taylor’s vocals on fine form over a Fun-esque melody, and the latter featuring dark-edged synths with trademark imagery-laden snippets of emotion: ‘You took a Polaroid of us then discovered the rest of the world was black and white’.
The album features many a track with what I like to call “Heartbreak with beats”. Bad Blood is a prime example; Gwen Stefani influences brings out the humility, being set over huge sounds, huge pain, and thus creating a huge tune. Style sounds like what would happen if Phil Collins and Madonna got together and made sweet sweet music; a perfectly tailored chorus set against plinky guitar hooks makes for a song that any number of pop greats would be proud to call their own.
This is all without even mentioning the masterpiece that is Shake it off. Being the lead single for the record, this track has been bouncing around peoples heads for a while now, and with good cause. Its relentless attitude and two fingers up to any criticism the singer has received sits perfectly against its perky nature, and I’d even go as far as saying this is the pop song of the year so far.
Although the album kind of ties up all its ideas by around track 10, the tail-end still has some nice moments if you forgive a couple of minor flaws. I know Places has a nice verse with its marching band beats, but is then unfortunately completely overwhelmed by another huge chorus, whereas How You get the Girl feels like an average effort compared to other moments on the record. This is just a small criticism, and really only noticeable because of the overall quality of the record as a whole.
The girl’s done good. She’s listened to others, listened to herself, and managed to transform into a fully blown pop superstar with relative ease. Taylor seems like one of those femme fatales who can just do anything, and 1989 proves that whatever the singer sets her mind to, she will achieve, and then some.