Taylor Swift is a Sad Scientist on Joe Alwyn’s Breakup Album ‘Tortured Poets Oath’: Review

Music review

Section of tortured poets

Taylor Swift is in bad blood again.

After making a name for herself as one of the most prolific songwriters of all time with her autobiographical records about love, loss, family, friends, and heartbreak, the pop star flipped a switch in 2020 and began introducing fictional characters and narratives into her work. Which makes it somewhat of an overnight mystery.

But there’s no doubt that Swift’s devastating 11th album, “Tortured Poets Oath” (out Friday), is about her ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn, the struggling actor who she portrays as a soul-sucking locket blossom, and who, for six long years, tried To dilute the same glamor that made her the biggest star of her generation.

Their 2023 split highlights a fierce side of Swift that we haven’t heard since “Dear John,” her 2010 dumping of another ex, John Mayer.

“You say I abandoned ship / But I was going down,” she snarls on “So Long, London,” a reference to Alwyn’s hometown, where the couple had a reputation for privacy.

Sometimes, Swift, 34, roasts Alwyn, 33, mercilessly. She says he fails to “live up” to “any standard of a man” in “The Littlest Man Who Ever Lived,” while the epic “My Son Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” childishly destroys the sand castle in which she is queen.

Matty Healy, with whom Swift had a post-Alwyn relationship, is another target of the Grammy winner’s humor, with her ’80s-influenced lead song mocking the “tattooed golden retriever” for being more committed to his rickety typewriter than his summer. mistress.

“I smoked and then I ate seven pieces of chocolate,” she sings, referring to “Chocolate,” Healy’s 2013 hit with his band, 1975. “We declared that Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist.” (facts.)

Throughout the album, though, Swift is more a heartbroken scholar turning her pain into poetry than a scorned woman filling a burning book.

She’s mature enough to admit that she “chose this whirlwind” with Healy, a controversial university student (in “The Tortured Poets Section”), and continued to love Alwyn even when he was “ruining” her life (in Post Malone’s distinctive opening and main sequence). Single “Two Weeks”).

Swift looks back fondly on her star-studded honeymoon phase with Alwyn (“You should have seen him when he first saw me,” she enthuses at one point), but once their relationship takes a left turn, chaos unfolds.

“You talked to me under the table / Talking rings and talking cradle / I wish I could not remember / How we got almost everything,” her voice trembles on the plodding, “Exile”-like piano ballad “LOML.”

Swift’s mental health reaches an all-time low in “Down Bad,” which finds her “crying in the gym” and repeatedly screaming, “f**k you if I can’t have him.”

However, through “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” a healed Swift realizes that she is a “really strong kid.”

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“They said, ‘Baby, you gotta fake it till you make it / And I did,'” she intones. “Lights, camera, b***h, smile / Even when you want to die.”

This optimism eventually leads Swift to her current boyfriend, NFL star Travis Kelce, whose influence on the penultimate track, “The Alchemy,” is very evident with lyrical references to relegations, trophies and bench players.

With 16 songs (20 if you combine all four special editions with bonus tracks), listening to “Tortured Poets Oath” may seem like a chore in an age where fast-paced TikTok videos have diminished our attention spans. After all, Ariana Grande and Kelsea Ballerini’s similar post-divorce projects took just 35 and 15 minutes, respectively.

But Swift’s latest work, an acoustic mashup of 2020’s “Evermore” and 2022’s “Midnights,” is such a piece de resistance that spending more than an hour studying it in the poetry section might not be so bad after all.

Just watch Alwyn across the hall during detention.

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