Taylor Swift: Lover (Republic Records)
Lover is the record I absolutely need to hear right now. I Forgot That You Existed might be the best opening song to an album EVER. That truth is at its most evident when you’re sitting on your own in a room in the middle of nowhere in the middle of what feels sort of like the apocalypse. It’s zippy enough that even I start to perk up. Sure, life’s a bit of a nightmare at the moment but Taylor Swift makes the best music to listen to when you feel like you’re lost in some kind of hell, because her songs are like DREAMS. Seriously. There isn’t an artist in the world who so absolutely blurs the line between music and magic. If any record’s going to save me from drowning in the sewage of my own misery, it’s this one.
Cruel Summer is the next song and it actually sounds like summer. I mean it. It’s like Taylor Swift went out on the softest, warmest July evening and somehow bottled the feeling of it. And it’s not like she only found out how to do this recently. So many of her records have been invested with that summery mix of primary and pastel colours – Cruel Summer is both swimsuit yellow and blush pink, vivid blue and apricot. Its chorus flares like a last flash of afternoon sun and I want to dive right into it. Of course I do. My reality is an empty bedroom with slim to no chance of visitors. Taylor Swift’s record is the ultimate escape. Close your eyes and listen hard enough and you’re right with her. Wherever she is. Wherever she wants to be.
Listen to the title track – Lover – and you’ll find her in her own place, just after Christmas. She paints the picture so clearly it’s no wonder my own world fragments like disappearing smoke. So many of the things I want are in this song. It’s enough to make me feel sorry for myself. Taylor know this. And so she puts her foot on the accelerator. The Man is quicker, harder, more pissed-off. I feel myself becoming those things too. My brain speeds up as I think about all the men in the world saying “Do this” or “Do that” or “Be this” or “Be that”. It’s those same men that want to carve me into shape. You don’t need to have any imagination to know exactly what shape.
This album is under my skin. It’s as if it was always there and now Taylor Swift is pulling it up to the surface so I can see it. The Archer starts up and the pulse of it charges me; I feel my heart beating in time with it. The song is taut like a bow and by the time it ends, I’m ready to fly like an arrow. Which is exactly what I do when Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince kicks in. It’s the most ‘Taylor Swift’ song on the record. Homecoming queens? Check. Prom dresses? Check. Pageant smiles? Check. And then comes Paper Rings. Try staying miserable when you’re listening to this – bet you can’t. It has the most upbeat chorus I’ve heard in my life which is exactly why I need it soooo much and why I play it again and again and again. Listening to it is like being caught in a perfect moment.
And I really need a perfect moment…