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CRITICS ASSAY
THE NEW TAY

What's the critical reaction to Taylor Swift's new Republic album been like? What do reviewers make of this surprise drop and new stylistic direction? Why can't they agree on whether or not the album's title should be capitalized? Read on for the answers to some of these questions. First, though, read some observations by our own Holly Gleason.

Washington Post—"If a Taylor Swift album Drops in a Pandemic, Does It Make a Sound?"
That might not be saying a lot, considering how Swift spent her 20s blasting the planet with melodic confetti, but at least Folklore isn’t the predictable girl-and-guitar-quarantined-in-Nashville album it could have been. Instead, these spartan pop ballads sound as if they were written entirely on Swift’s terms, artfully co-produced by Aaron Dessner (who makes hygienic rocklike music in the National) and Jack Antonoff (who also recently helped Lana Del Rey make her greatest album by staying out of the way). Don’t let the negligible duet with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver distract you, either. The triumph of Folklore isn’t that Swift has suddenly become tasteful and tuned-in. Having so thoroughly crashed the pop charts like a fluorescent tidal wave, she’s finally making enough space in her music for her modest voice to sound like itself.

USA Today—"'Folklore' is the Album Taylor Swift Was Born to Make"
After embracing her pop side on her past three albums, including last year's Lover, the former country star is switching up her sound once again. This time, she's taking a page from some of her songwriting heroes including Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King. While plenty of pop luminaries such as Justin Timberlake (Man of the Woods) and Lady Gaga (Joanne) have taken detours into stripped-down folk/soft rock, none have made the transition as seamlessly as Swift, who reminds us once again that she's the most gifted songwriter in music today.

NME—"‘Folklore’ review: pop superstar undergoes an extraordinary indie-folk makeover (4/5 stars)"
Folklore feels fresh, forward-thinking and, most of all, honest. The glossy production she’s lent on for the past half-decade is cast aside for simpler, softer melodies and wistful instrumentation. It’s the sound of an artist who’s bored of calculated releases and wanted to try something different. Swift disappeared into the metaphorical woods while writing Folklore, and she’s emerged stronger than ever.

Rolling Stone—"Taylor Swift Leaves Her Comfort Zones Behind on the Head-Spinning, Heartbreaking Folklore (4.5/5 stars)"
It’s amusing, in retrospect, how people actually worried that being happy in love might mean Swift would run out of things to write songs about. Not a chance….If Lover was the last album of her twenties, Folklore is the first of her thirties. Lover was styled as a well-rounded musical autobiography, with everything from Nashville twang to electro-disco. Folklore takes a completely different approach, yet feels even more intimate, simply because it’s the sound of an artist with absolutely nothing to prove. She’s never sounded this relaxed or confident, never sounded this blasé about winning anyone over. It makes perfect sense that the quarantine brought out her best, since she’s always written so poignantly about isolation and the temptation to dream too hard about other people’s far-away lives.

Variety—"Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’: Album Review"
It’s hard to remember any contemporary pop superstar that has indulged in a more serious, or successful, act of sonic palate cleansing than Swift has with her eighth album, a highly subdued but rich affair written and recorded in quarantine conditions.

Esquire—"With folklore, Taylor Swift Is Truly ‘On Some New Shit.' And We Like It."
Well, folklore is beautiful and soothing—as whispery and intimate as all those lowercase song titles and filtered photos suggest. It’s a short story collection for your bedside table in the house you won’t be leaving anytime soon; an album recorded during a lockdown when your productivity sputtered out after that dense loaf of sourdough you baked in March. folklore, whose credits include Swift's frequent cohort Jack Antonoff as well as, for the first time, Aaron Dessner of the National and Bon Iver, will make you feel several emotions, and I am here to tell you that at least three of them will be envy.

 

MAYBE, JUST MAYBE:
MOBILE PHONES,
IMMOBILE HUMANS
Lenny Beer needs to cut down on his screen time. (9/30a)
RAINMAKERS: MICHAEL RAPINO, NATION BUILDER
A tease for the upcoming edition, eh? (9/30a)
THE DEATH OF PRINT JOURNALISM: GRAMMY PREVIEW EDITION
Gimme an "H." Gimme another "H." (9/30a)
NEAR TRUTHS: PARANOIA STRIKES DEEP—INTO YOUR LIFE
IT WILL CREEP*
A high-revving column (9/30a)
YOUR TOP 20 IS
FULLY LOADED
Prediction: There will be 20 albums in the Top 20 this week. (9/30a)
GRAMMY TALK
We're full of it.
AFRICAN POP
Getting global with it.
IT'S PRETTY SMOKY
And this time it's not from our bong.
WHAT COMES AFTER TIKTOK?
Shorter videos! Weirder trends!
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