It's been three years since Taylor Swift dropped her first full foray into genuine pop with 1989. Since then, a lot has changed. Relationships formed, ideas changed, and, most importantly to her narrative, beef started. That's what she hones in on in her new record, and with a new sound to back it, it packs a bit of a punch. That punch can really be a swing or a miss, though. Taylor Swift's Reputation comeback feels a bit empty.
Taylor has never been above calling people out. Most of her career is based off writing about the exes that did her wrong. Reputation steps beyond just the boys that hurt her and into the whole scope of people that did her dirty. It's only fitting that opening track '...Ready For It?' (which even fits the opening spot correctly with its title) sounds like something straight off of Yeezus. While the song is most definitely about an ex, the fact that she has an ongoing feud with Kanye West after the VMA debacle a few years ago makes the big instrumental under a slamming song no coincidence. That being said, it is quite a badass way of opening the album with its metallic synths. The key change at the end is quite nice, too. She more directly slams Ye on 'This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things,' where she quite literally teaches him a lesson on why they can't have nice things: "This is why we can't have nice things, darling / Because you break them / I had to take them away." Rarely does Taylor get too genuine or candid on the record, but closing track 'New Year's Day' takes it down in just the right ways to end the album off in a way that feels just like her.
While Taylor does quick work of all of her enemies, the music doesn't quite say as much. Reputation is most definitely the classic "popstar makes a big comeback with EDM-infused music" that Justin Bieber executed perfectly with 'Sorry.' It doesn't quite come off as well with Taylor's version. There are some banging tracks like 'I Did Something Bad' and the huge choruses of 'Don't Blame Me,' but for the most part everything comes to an anti-climax. 'Getaway Car' does great in finding the big presence while keeping the verses subdued. Every song has that bit that weighs it down, though. Lead single 'Look What You Made Me Do' has great verses and the bridge is iconic, yet the choruses are so dull and uneventful that they really just kill the entire song. 'End Game' is shockingly taken down a notch by Ed Sheeran, whose voice is so over-processed on the track that it feels less natural than Future's verse, which is an achievement of itself. The drops she tries to do in every chorus just feel unimportant in every track, which is really what drags it.
Taylor Swift's Reputation comeback feels a bit empty in several ways. It's not often beef tracks do much damage quality-wise, let alone a full album. The EDM style doesn't mesh well, especially considering most of the choruses end up with dull drops that make the verses seem like the real catches. Perhaps its a stepping stone for something more dynamic to come, but Reputation just doesn't stand the ground it wishes it did.
Favorite Tracks: I Did Something Bad, New Year's Day, Don't Blame Me, ...Ready For It?
Least Favorite Tracks: Gorgeous, Dancing With Our Hands Tied
Rating: 72 / 100