Taylor Swift has arguably been one of the most successful female pop stars of the past 5 years; her blend of country and pop combined with relatable lyrics has made her a huge success, especially in the teenage demographic. Her last 3 albums have been massive commercial hits, so she has a hard act to follow. But she’s done it.
Lead single, ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together’, has already been a huge hit. It’s everything Taylor’s fans want in a single, a catchy chorus and her standard ex-hating lyrics. It reached number 1 in the US Billboard charts and was in the top 5 in the UK charts. It was one of the songs of the summer and it’s not hard to see why.
Album opener ‘State Of Grace’ sets up the feel of Red perfectly. The record passes through a few great tracks, like album name sake ‘Red’ and soft ballad ‘Treacherous’, until it reaches the first really great track on the album. ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ is arguably the odd track out on the album; but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad song, in fact it’s the complete opposite. It shows Taylor going in a more club orientated direction, and it’s honestly one of the high points of the album. It’s the closest thing we’ll get to Swift crossed with dubstep, and it’s great.
‘22’ is probably the most Swift-esque track on the album, with lyrics like “It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters, And make fun of our exes”. It’s a tune that’ll keep all her older fans happy. ‘All Too Well’ is another track that is reminiscent of Taylor’s Speak Now and Fearless days; however the sounds seems slightly more mature and the lyrics, although typically snarky and truthful, show that Taylor has grown up.
This album also features two high profile collaborations, one with Ed Sheeran and one with Gary Lightbody (from Snow Patrol). Both are slow ballads, so it would have been nice to have one of the collaborations be a more up tempo track, having said that neither of the tracks are bad. Both of these collaborations sound more like they are featuring Taylor Swift, than the other way around, but this works in Swift’s favour. The tracks may appeal to fanbases that Taylor’s not yet tapped in to, and provides a different take to her standard ballad. ‘Everything Has Changed’ (the track with Ed Sheeran) has already been a big success on iTunes, and seems like to be a future single, especially due to Sheeran’s huge fanbase in the UK. It’s filled with great harmonies and classic Sheeran guitar playing, so despite not being the most imaginative track, it’s lovely to listen to and will be adored by fans of both artists.
Although the album is filled with great songs, my one criticism is that it’s just too long; 16 songs is too many for an album. Although most of the songs are fairly strong, a lot of them do sound very similar. There are too many slow tracks; we all love a classic Swift ballad but there’s only so many you can deal with in a 65 minute album. Tracks ‘I Almost Do’, ‘Sad Beautiful Tragic’ and ‘Begin Again’ are all very similar. They’re all good songs, but did all 3 need to be on the album?
Having said that, overall the album is great. It shows Taylor going in a new direction with star studded collaborations and ‘club beats’; without ever straying too far from her famous Swift sound.