When considering tone and theme, Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated fourth album, Red, is not a far enough cry from her previous records. In most of her newest songs, she still sounds like a love-yearning, heart-aching, ex-boyfriend-bashing teenager. She was introduced to the public six years ago with her self-titled debut album, and had plenty of vent-session songs back then, too. The first single released off this most recent album, “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” encapsulates those same slightly juvenile characteristics, as well as adding a new pop-genre edge that’s echoed in more than a handful of tracks on the record.
She seems to be trying to shed her country roots with dance tunes like “I Knew You Were Trouble,” a Katy Perry-esque, bass-filled track. “Starlight” is another upbeat pop jam, with lyrics like, “And I said ‘Oh my, what a marvelous tune’/It was the best night, never would forget how we moved/The whole place was dressed to the nines/And we were dancing, dancing/Like we’re made of starlight, starlight.”
These blurts of pop are mixed with some indie-rock and acoustic tracks that equally resonate throughout the album. In fact, indie singer/songwriters Gary Lightbody and Ed Sheeran each join Swift on a track: Lightbody collaborating with her in “The Last Time” and Sheeran corresponding with her in “Everything Has Changed.”
Her twang isn’t completely gone, though; the banjo can be heard plucking along in acoustic-type ballads like “All Too Well” and “Sad Beautiful Tragic.” “Red” also brings in some of her old country familiarity and is a gem among some more lackluster stones on the record.
Her tunes are undoubtedly relatable—she wouldn’t be so enormously successful if they weren’t—but she seems to be endlessly steamrolling off what has worked for her in the past. While it doesn’t seem like her song topics will be straying far from the usual anytime soon, it might benefit Swift to, at least, focus in on one genre that she likes the best. This medley of indie with rock with country with pop is confusing at best and frustrating at worst.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Audrey Swanson is a junior journalism major from Las Vegas, NV.