Love her or hate her, it can’t be denied that Taylor Swift knows how to market herself and how to use the media to her advantage. The release of her highly anticipated sixth album is no exception. As a follow-up to the hugely successful 1989, Swift uses Reputation to debut her new image and edgier sound, a response to negative media portrayals and her infamous public spats with certain other celebrities.
The album has a strong opening. Swift is largely successful in presenting her new sound, mixing hip-hop and R&B influences with her usual guitar ballads and catchy pop. In particular, ‘…Ready for It?’ and ‘I Did Something Bad’ stand out as divergent from the music she has produced in the past. The use of heavy bass and drum beats in these tracks adds an interesting blend of attitude and ferocity to Swift’s typically catchy tunes and lyrics. The lead single ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ similarly portrays this harder image of Swift, as it claps back at her critics and haters. Another highlight, ‘End Game,’ sees Swift collaborate with Ed Sheeran and Future, creating a great mix of rap and soulful melodies.
However, the second half of the album fails to keep up this momentum and dissolves into much of what we’ve come to expect from a Taylor Swift album. Pop ballads and dance tracks tepidly follow the highs and lows of love and relationships. While Swift has perfectly captured almost every aspect of these themes previously, unfortunately it seems she has now reached her limit for the number of ways you can say you’re in love, or totally over someone.
In a nutshell: Reputation starts out strong with a new R&B-infused sound but struggles to maintain the edgier themes throughout.