Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

‘The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology’ review: Swift revels in “excess”

Courtesy of Republic

After months of teasing twos, Taylor Swift released a secret double at 2 a.m. on April 19, 2024, following the debut of her 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department.”

“The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” consists of 15 additional tracks – along with the original 16 tracks of the first album.

Swift’s strategic “double” album has sparked conversation amongst fans and critics alike with fans wondering if we should consider these albums her 11th and 12th albums and critics suggesting that Swift has sunk into overabundance, inciting “Taylor Swift fatigue,” as reported by the New York Times.

While the casual listener or one-listen reporter may suggest that Swift’s latest body of work needed pruning, they are likely unaware of the decade-long request from fans for Swift to release the 10-minute version of “All too well,” from her fourth studio album, “Red,” after the artist casually mentioned the lengthier version.

The 10-minute song went on to break the Billboard record for longest No. 1 song on the Hot 100 chart, which Swift credits to her fans.

It’s no secret that Swift has a special bond with her fans – from following them on Tumblr to inviting them into her home for “secret sessions” to listen to her new albums – the artist has always gone to lengths to express her gratitude for her deeply-devoted fanbase.

So it is without a doubt in my mind that Swift was only thinking of her fans when releasing this 31-track album. Still, this left Swifties asking if these were separate albums, as many of them took to Tiktok – or Swiftok – to start a discourse on the matter.

Some say track five of “The Anthology” is the saddest of the tracks – a feature Swift has maintained on all of her albums from the beginning of her career – which shows that the 15-track addendum is its own album with its own original cover, much like the pandemic “folklore” and “evermore” albums.

While others believe that since the 15 tracks only exist in tandem with the original 16 that it’s merely a version of “The Tortured Poets Department,” as they believe Swift would no longer release two competing albums, especially when “evermore” is often labeled the “forgotten album” within the fandom for being completely overshadowed by its sister album, “folklore.”

No matter what you believe, there’s one thing that remains certain: Swift delivered a narrative within 31 tracks that would become the soundtrack to our lives, and we may spend the rest of our lives decoding her cryptic lyrics and pondering how she could so perfectly describe our most personal moments.

The Black Dog – 8/10
Swift’s master storytelling shines in the track, as she describes watching the location of a former lover as they enter a bar and her imagined scenarios of what could be happening. With Swift’s sultry vocals and amped up production from longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff, the artists build to the song’s chorus with Swift shouting, “Old habits die screaming,” which reimagines the age-old adage.

​​imgonnagetyouback – 9/10
In this song, Swift ponders whether she’s going to marry the person of her affection or smash up their bike, but either way, she’s gonna get them back. Fans have noticed the similarity between this song and Olivia Rodrigo’s “get him back!” which also plays on the double entendre of getting someone back – whether it’s getting back into a relationship or getting revenge. While the songs differ dramatically sonically, the two artists seem to agree there’s a fine line between the two.

The Albatross – 9/10

Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus – 4/10
This may be an unpopular opinion, but this is my least favorite song by Swift. While I can acknowledge that people enjoy this song, it’s one song from this album that I often skip.

How Did It End? – 7/10
This is the supposed track five of “The Anthology,” and it’s clear why this assumption can be made because this song is heart-wrenching. It describes the aftermath of a breakup when you have to break the news, when the “empathetic hunger” ensues, and people will inevitably wonder or boldly ask, ‘how did it end?’ Swift sings, “Come one, come all / It’s happening again,” in reference to the public perception of her personal life and breakups, especially in the media. While this lyric is striking, the most heartbreaking lines come in the bridge where Swift reimagines the children’s nursery rhyme of sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G, but instead writes, “My beloved ghost and me / Sitting in a tree / D-Y-I-N-G.”

So High School – 10/10
“So High School” has quickly become my all-time favorite song, which is a bold statement from someone who is a longtime lover and obsessor of “Paper Rings,” from Swift’s seventh studio album, “Lover,” which is composed mostly of glitter gel pen songs. I neer thought Swift could write another song that would top that song (or album) for me, but she stuck this sweet symphony of a love song into this tortured album and has had me captured ever since. Lyrically, it’s not as complex as many of the other songs on this album, but the sentiment of having a love that feels “so high school” is special, and she portrays it so well in this track.

While it’s obvious that it’s about the singer’s new beau with the lyrics, “You know how to ball / I know Aristotle,” it’s a love song that anyone can relate to that encompasses all of the embarrassing, sweet, and honest moments that comes with falling in love with someone new.
The artist even references an interview of boyfriend Travis Kelce deciding to marry, kiss, or kill her, Katy Perry, or Ariana Grande in a interview from 2016, which has resurfaced on TikTok with lyrics, “Are you gonna marry, kiss, or kill me? / It’s just a game, but really / I’m bettin’ on all three / For us two.”

The song also perfectly calls back to Swift’s earlier work and shows that sometimes the girl on the bleachers does get the guy on the football team – and she might piss off a few dads, Brads, and Chads while doing so, but who cares? Because no one’s ever had her, not like he does.

I Hate It Here – 10/10
While this song has received mixed reactions on social media with lyrics, “My friends used to play a game where / We would pick a decade / We wished we could live in instead of this / I’d say the ‘1830s but without all the racists / And getting married off for the highest bid / Everyone would look down ’cause it wasn’t fun now / Seems like it was never even fun back then / Nostalgia is a mind’s trick,” this song quickly rose to be one of my favorite songs by Swift.

​​thanK you aIMee – 8/10

I Look in People’s Windows – 8/10

The Prophecy – 8/10

Cassandra – 9/10

Peter – 7/10

The Bolter – 7.5/10

Robin – 7/10

The Manuscript – 8.5/10

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About the Contributor
Maleigh Crespo
Maleigh Crespo, Editor in Chief
Maleigh Crespo serves as the Maroon's Editor in Chief. Maleigh previously served as the Maroon's  Managing Editor for Print, Design Chief, Equity and Inclusion officer, and Op/Ed editor. When she’s not writing, she can be found listening to Taylor Swift on repeat, online shopping, or feeding the squirrels in Audubon.

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