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Taylor Swift's lengthy 'THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT' is poetry in slow motion

Last week, Taylor Swift dropped her newest album, "THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT," a surprisingly shallow and bloated outing for the artist. – Photo by @taylorswift13 /

The wait is over: Taylor Swift's 11th studio album, "THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT," was finally released on Friday. If that wasn't enough, Swift also surprised fans with a double album release, dropping, "THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT: THE ANTHOLOGY" with 15 additional songs. The two massive records feature some good songs but, overall, they meld together to create a somewhat underwhelming collection.

The album's sound follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, "Midnights," with synth-heavy production. This works to create interesting melodies, but it makes all of the songs blend into one another during the first few listens. Swift could afford to play around with rhythm and melody more to really make certain tracks stand out — for a good reason.

Despite implying more poetic lyricism with the title, the lyrics on this album are often clunky, awkward or overwritten. There are some that'll cause listeners to stop dead in their tracks.

On the titular track, she sings, "We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist," and on "So High School" she includes the line, "Touch me while your bros play Grand Theft Auto." But the worst lyrics are undoubtedly on "I Hate It Here," with "My friends used to play a game where / We would pick a decade ... I'd say the 1830s but without all the racists."

When the lyrics aren't cringey, they're overwritten with a multitude of words that wouldn't feel out of place on the SAT. Swift might know exactly what she means to say with "Sanctimoniously performing soliloquies I'll never see" on "But Daddy I Love Him," but it comes off as overly complicated. 

This isn't to say that "THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT" doesn't have some standout tracks that will certainly make it onto anyone's playlist. 

One of the strongest is "Florida!!! (feat. Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine)," a high-energy track with strong, memorable drums. Here, lyrics like, "Little did you know your home's really only / A town you're just a guest in," actually read like a poem. Welch's vocals layer well with Swift's and add more depth to the song's soundscape.

Another one of the standout songs comes from "THE ANTHOLOGY" double album, "The Prophecy." This song seems to be about Swift's complicated relationship with romance and perhaps even her career: "I've been on my knees / Change the prophecy / Don't want money / Just someone who wants my company." Unlike other points on the album, the less overwhelming production here doesn't distract from the lyrics and vocals. 

Aside from the inconsistent quality of the songs, there are other issues surrounding "THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT" that bring Swift and the music industry in general into question.

Leading up to the album's release, Swift was advertising four variants that each included one bonus track, implying that fans would have to purchase all of the albums to get access to all of these songs. But then with the release of "THE ANTHOLOGY," Swift put these "exclusive" songs out on streaming platforms, making the promotion of these vinyls appear to be a money grab.

This phenomenon of releasing multiple vinyls or CDs has been called out by artists, like Billie Eilish, for being "wasteful." Swift's latest project seems to fall into this category, prioritizing commercialism over genuine artistic intent.

"THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT" ultimately adds some more hits to Swift's expansive catalog but is generally disappointing. While Swift claims the record was two years in the making, taking the time to clean up the lyrics and even cutting some of the similar-sounding songs to avoid redundancy could have helped cement this as some of her better work.

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