Taylor Swift – The Tortured Poets Department

Taylor Swift - The Tortured Poets Department



3.7/5 Pros

  • Very personal stories
  • Excellent storytelling Cons

  • Melodically very monotonous
  • Rather similar in topics, also compared to previous albums

19th April 2024 is some sort of holiday for millions of people. I for example think about a Malaysian friend, who fulfilled her dream this year, being able to see one of her favorite artists live in Singapore. 19th April 2024 is Taylor Swift day – the US-American superstar is releasing her new album The Tortured Poets Department.Of course, I had to have a listen, too.


Taylor Swift – About The Artist

If there is one artist you nowadays don’t have to introduce, it is Taylor Swift. The 1989 Pennsylvania young lady was a great talent and country and now dominates the pop music scene. Her Eras tour breaks all records – including the ones in dynamic ticket pricing. It would definitely be easier to list the markets in which her most recent album did not make it to the top (which includes countries like Japan, Croatia or South Korea. In a world of low album sales, the album sold 2.8 million units so far – in the United States only. It is hard to guess where The Tortured Poets Department will be going to as well.


Taylor Swift – The Tortured Poets Department – Track by Track

The album comes in four physical versions, which differ by the seventeenth song only. I concentrate on the first 16 tracks. They last 65 minutes. There is also a The Anthology version, which contains 15 bonus tracks in total with a 2:02 hour duration (as linked in the Spotify widget below). Remarkably, none of the songs has been released before the album.

1. Fortnight (Feat. Post Malone)

The opener Fortnight featuring Post Malone also works as the radio single of the album. The song is full of emotional struggle like stated in the second verse, I love you, it’s ruining my life. The song feels rather quiet, but thus also has a rather intimate touch. A typical Taylor Swift track, which connects to her previous albums.

2. The Tortured Poets Department

You left your typewriter at my apartment
Straight from the tortured poets department
I think some things I never say
“Like who uses typewriters anyway?”

The second track of The Tortured Poets Department is the almost five minute title track. The song is thought to be a reference to her six year long relationship with British Actor Joe Alwyn.  However, the song is full of other references as well. Again, Tyler Swift is presenting a very intimate, rather quiet, but fine song with synth-pop elements, which is having on a strong focus on the storytelling.

3. My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys

Taylor Swift does not care about nowadays mainstream pop conventions. Even shorter songs of the album like My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys last way more than three minutes and thus do not fit in the typical 2:30 minute bracket. The song is about the struggle of keeping love active. Overall, it does not feel as impressing as the two tracks before.

4. Down Bad

Now I’m down bad, crying at the gym
Everything comes out teenage petulance
“Fuck it if I can’t have him”
“I might just die, it would make no difference”
Down bad, waking up in blood
Staring at the sky, come back and pick me up
Fuck it if I can’t have us
I might just not get up
I might stay down bad
Fuck it if I can’t have him
Down bad
Fuck it if I can’t have him

Down Bad is more rhythmic than the songs before. Apart from that, though, it keeps up a song which is stringent for the album so far. The song comes with great and emotional storytelling, nice melodies. But it also feels a bit of boring in the context of the album so far.

5. So Long, London

So Long, London seems to break up the monotony of The Tortured Poets Department. Starting with a church choir alike part, the track has a more agitative and lively backing vibe. However, the lyric part as such stays in the rather calm style. Another song which is clearly reminding of her former relationship, which is also made rather clear in the short chorus.

For so long, London
Stitches undone
Two graves, one gun
I’ll find someone

6. But Daddy I Love Him

The song is about the struggle of being in a relationship which is not supported by your fans and family. This may be a reference to the short love affair of Taylor Swift and Matty Healy, singer of The 1975. The physical album includes a poem in the liner notes – and the album overall feels very poetic so far. The chorus has some energy, but overall, it is rather the lyric part again, which is leading to an interesting listen of this 5:40 minute track.

7. Fresh Out the Slammer

Now pretty baby
I’m running back home to you
Fresh out the slammer,
I know who my first call will be to

The seventh track directly connects to the song before, but is rather referencing to the end of the end of a relationship. The comparably short track comes with an almost dramatic fade-out at the end, closing with the words But it’s gonna be alight, I did my time. This part is also the most catching one of the album.

8. Florida!!! (feat. Florence + the Machine)

For Florida!!!, Taylor joins forces with British singer-songwriter Florence Leontine Mary Welch and her band. The song, which is describing the US state as an escape for Taylor Swift and her emotional issues, is full of anger and struggle. This even has a touch of psychedelic sounds here and there.

9. Guilty as Sin?

As the title suggests, the song has a strong mental and spiritual touch. Some parts are a bit too much for me, for example the bridge opener What if I roll the stone away? They’re gonna crucify me anyway. Comparing Taylor’s story to the one of Jesus Christ is too pathetic, even for me as an atheist.

10. Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?

This song feels like a reckoning with how Taylor is treated by the public and media sometimes. There are lines like You don’t get to me you feel bad in it. The song is even more focused on its story than other songs in the album.

So I leap from the gallows and I levitate down your street
Crash the party like a record scratch as I scream
“Who’s afraid of little old me?”
You should be

11. I can Fix Him (No Really I Can)

With its 2:36 minute duration, the eleventh track is the only song which fits into the brief mainstream radio brackets. Again, the song struggles with the acceptance of her love. The lyrics in here don’t feel too strong to me.

They shake their heads saying, “God, help her” when I tell ’em he’s my man
But your good lord doesn’t need to lift a finger
I can fix him, no, really, I can
And only I can

12. loml

loml means “Loss of y Life”. The song is again referring to her failed relation with Joe Alwyn. Majorly presenting the track with a piano only gives it a lovely, even more personal touch.

13. I Can Do It With a Broken Heart

Finally, there is some energy in The Tortured Poets Department. The very present synth-pop dance rhythm feels like a relief after all the similar sounds before. Even though the song is not my favorite one on the album, I definitely appreciate that.

14. The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived

Taylor goes back to the piano for The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived. You just don’t want to be in love with the singer-songwriter, if it might result into that of public, likely billion times globally listened to message. I like the chorus in here, which spreads the magic of former Taylor Swift songs.

And I don’t even want you back, I just want to know
If rusting my sparkling summer was the goal
And I don’t miss what we had, but could someone give
A message to the smallest man who ever lived?

15. The Alchemy

This album is (almost solely) about love stories, good and bad. With The Alchemy, it finally topics the relationship of Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce. Using sports wording references throughout the song feels a bit too cheap for me, but still, the track is one of the highlights of the album.

So when I touch down
Call the amateurs and cut ’em from the team
Ditch the clowns, get the crown
Baby, I’m the one to be
‘Cause the sign on your heart
Said it’s still reserved for me
Honestly, who are we to fight thе alchemy?

16. Clara Bow

The final song of the (ordinary section of) The Tortured Poets Department refers to movie star Clara Bow. The actor born in 1905 in Brooklyn and died in 1965 struggled with fame all over her career. Her story is rather dramatic, dealing with strong mental health issues and dying at the age of 60. The song is opening with You look like Clara Bow and closes with the following words (which I feel is a rather worrying link):

You look like Taylor Swift
In this light, we’re loving it
You’ve got edge, she never did
The future’s bright, dazzling


Taylor Swift – The Tortured Poets Department – Spotify

Here is the album on Spotify (in the The Anthology version with 31 songs:


Taylor Swift – The Tortured Poets Department – My View

To me, the key song of the The Tortured Poets Department (in its 16 main tracks) is Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?. Why? Because it is full of struggle with Tayor Swift’s reputation. On the other hand, she is just presenting again as an artist which is just driven by good love and bad love. If there was not Taylor’s unique talent to put stories into amazing and personal lyrics, her 2024 album would be weak in my point of view. Nonetheless, I expected more than what I got. at the age of 34, Taylor Swift is telling me the same kind of stories (with partially other people) she told us years ago as well. And the melodic side lacks exciting moments as well.

Favorite Song: Fortnight


Taylor Swift on

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