Friday, August 23, 2019

Domerberry Album Review: Lover

When I left my apartment for work this morning, I discovered a charming surprise outside my neighbor's door. Sometime in the 12 hours since I'd last walked past, a vase full of pretty pastel flowers had been delivered.

On a normal day, I might be jealous of such a sweet little gesture — but not today. Because I also had a pastel-colored, lovey-dovey surprise delivered overnight last night, along with everyone else on earth: the seventh studio album of one Ms. Taylor Swift.

Friends, this album is good. Because of my years-old contract with Satan stating that my blog must come out of hiatus every time Taylor releases new music, I would be writing this post even if Lover were bad. But fortunately for us all, it isn't. Lover is a g*sh d*rn delight.

Back when 1989 came out, I feared that the all-pop Taylor lacked the songwriting oomph of her country days — and Reputation hardly assuaged my concerns. Did I spend the better part of $200 last year on tickets and costumes for the Rep tour's Chicago show? Yes. Did I still feel like the whole era was some Babysitter's Club version of a goth fever dream? Also yes. I could tell from the first single that this TS7 era would have the friendly, vintage-Taylor aesthetic I'd been missing, but the jury was out on the music. Seven years after Red, would this finally be the Taylor album I could sit back and enjoy?

The answer is yes — and not a minute too soon.

The recession people have been talking about? That's cancelled. The patriarchy? Done. The old Taylor came to the phone today, and when she answered, she said "GAY RIGHTS." Like Marianne Williamson at the presidential debates, girlfriend, this album has a message, and that message is love.

In the midst of our long national nightmare, Taylor Swift has decided that happiness is back.

I Forgot That You Existed. I love this song. I cannot listen to it enough times. Some people are calling it a roast, and, like, sure. Calvin who? I get it. But it's also just relatable. It's a great feeling to finally move on from someone who used to ruin your life! This song made me grin, and, as we know, I am not a grinner. The theme of this number may be indifference, but I am not indifferent to this jam. It is fantastic.

Lover. Listen, when this was released as a single, I was pretty neutral on it. It grew on me more once the video came out, and now that I hear it in context, it's grown even more. It's a love song! It's a cute little old-Taylor love song, and I for one accept this return to form with open arms.

That said, the meme of that girl trying kombucha for the first time is now all of us who must bounce between Thank U, Next-era Ariana Grande (set your boyfriend on fire!) and Lover-era T. Swift (tattoo his name on your face!). It's a confusing time.

The Man. Has she mentioned she's a Democrat now?

Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince. As someone who dated exactly zero people as an actual teen, this song (a bop) is a great way to pretend I understand adolescent love. It also, given the title similarity to Half-Blood Prince, has intoxicating potential for Harry Potter crossover case you're wondering why no one in high school wanted to date me.

Paper Rings. This is another great song. A jam and a half! We love an upbeat pop moment that also includes casual references to waking up in the night to watch someone breathe. In seriousness, this is one of my favorites on the album, though you've been warned — if you invite me to your wedding in the next three to six months, I will make you swear on Gender Trouble that this song didn't peer-pressure you into matrimony.

London Boy. I said it in 2017 and I'm saying it again: WE GET IT, TAYLOR. BRITISH GUYS ARE HOT.

Soon You'll Get Better (feat. Dixie Chicks). I know people have been loving this one, but I'm not gonna lie...I was hoping the Dixie Chicks collab would be a little Dixie Chicks-er. Call me in a few weeks when y'all have recorded a remix of "Goodbye, Earl."

False God. This song exists already, it is called "Take Me to Church," and I refuse to listen to any imitations. Moving on!

You Need to Calm Down. This feels like a good time to mention that, for me, Taylor's newfound activism is pretty satisfactory. It's not perfect — this video in particular felt a bit convenient to release mid-Pride — but I think it's a net positive that one of the biggest pop stars in the world has decided to use her platform for a cause or two. And if you disagree, well, Ms. Taylor has a song title for you!

ME! (feat. Brendon Urie). You guys. A Panic! at the Disco collab that also includes an interlude about spelling is about as on-brand as you can get for Sarah Cahalan. I know that most people didn't really like this song, but those people are incorrect. Also incorrect is the album's decision to omit the line, "Hey kids! Spelling is fun!"

Daylight. :')

My only complaint with this album is the last 45 or so seconds. The voice memo she ends this thing with is painfully cheesy, and, being who I am as a person, I fundamentally disagree with her premise. The things I hate are absolutely what I want to be defined by. In fact, that's kind of my whole schtick.

But, right now, being defined by love is Taylor's. And I don't hate that at all.

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