Under Review: Taylor Swift’s “Lover”


Taylor Swift released “Lover” at midnight on August 23.

Mac Bechtol, Staff Writer

I want to be defined by the things that I love. Not the things I hate, not the things I’m afraid of, or the things that haunt me in the middle of the night. I just think that you are what you love.

This line, spoken by Taylor Swift at the end of “Daylight,” the closing song on her latest studio album Lover, encapsulates everything that the album stands for. Swift’s newest masterpiece is written as a love letter to love itself, in all its glory, heartache and whimsy. The music sounds the way falling in love feels, with a nostalgic beauty that hasn’t been present in Swift’s other albums. 

I fell in love with Swift’s music when I was seven, bouncing around my room with my best friend, screaming along to “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story.” The older I got, the more I started to actually listen to the music I was singing along to every day—the guitar chords and piano notes and enchanting lyrical metaphors. 

And that’s when I decided I wanted to be a singer-songwriter just like Swift. 

I started taking guitar and singing lessons and writing songs. I told everyone I was going to become a popstar. I’m a little more realistic now, and I know I’m not going to be the next Taylor Swift, but I know nearly every one of her songs by heart, and I still write my own music. Even before I was old enough to realize it, she inspired me. 

If you’ve been a fan of Swift since the beginning like I have, you’ll know that, just like Swift herself, her music style has evolved. From the curly-haired cover photo on her self-titled first album to the solo-written, heartbreaking Speak Now, Swift’s music candidly and unabashedly reflects who she is in that moment. 

Swift’s music can make you want to cry uncontrollably (“All Too Well” from Red), dance wildly around your bedroom (“Shake it Off” from 1989) or scream at the top of your lungs (“I Did Something Bad” from Reputation). Not only is her music incredibly relatable, but it’s also lyrically brilliant, and her latest album is no different. Lover depicts a phase of Swift’s life that she herself has yet to experience. After countless break-up songs that felt like healing wounds reopened by guitar strings, Swift is now writing about the golden starlight love that she’s dreamt of. The title track is possibly the most romantic song Swift has ever written, and it comes from a place of genuine love. Sitting in my room, listening to this album on August 23 at exactly midnight, I felt this emotion reflected in every song. 

Lover is such a force is because of its newness. Swift’s lyrics are some of the most personal she’s ever written, providing insight into feeling insecure, anxious and unlovable. On “The Archer,” she asks, “Who could ever leave me, darling/who could stay?” and on “Daylight” she confesses that she’s “been sleeping so long in a twenty-year dark night.” She also opens up about her mother’s cancer for the first time on “Soon You’ll get Better.”

Even the light, upbeat love songs feature details about her relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn (The Favourite) that Swift has kept private. In “Paper Rings,” she sings about being so in love that she doesn’t care about material things, telling her lover, “I like shiny things/but I’d marry you with Paper Rings.” On “London Boy,” she sings about Alwyn’s British charm, listing all the reasons she “fancies him.” 

On the opening song, “I Forgot That You Existed,” Swift puts an end to the empowering but pessimistic Reputation era, telling her critics that “it isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference.” The song isn’t vengeful, angry or even annoyed. It’s a catchy, shrug your shoulders, “I’ve moved on” kind of song. 

Swift also voices political opinions, which she’s always kept to herself. “You Need To Calm Down” calls out haters and homophobes while calling for real change. At the end of the  accompanying music video, Swift includes a petition for lawmakers to pass the Equality Act, which advocates for equality and denounces homophobia. The petition has over half a million signatures, which is five times the number it needs to warrant a response from the White House. 

Politics are also present on “The Man,” in which Swift sings about double standards and sexism, and on “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince,” a haunting, mysterious song that uses parallels to show how life is sometimes just like high school (“Boys will be boys, then/Where are the wise men?”).

Swift is at her happiest on Lover, an album that will widen your smile, give you butterflies and make your heart beat a little faster. 

Best Tracks:  “Lover,” “London Boy” and “Afterglow” 

Best Moment:  The two-minute mark on “Cruel Summer” 

Best Lyrics: “There’s a dazzling haze, a mysterious way about you dear” (“Lover”), “Saw the dimples first and then I heard the accent” (“London Boy”) and “Got out some popcorn as soon as my rep started going down” (“I Forgot That You Existed”)

Rating: 5/5