With Taylor Swift, it’s rarely the intention that counts. So we are a little piqued by curiosity (nettle way), to know how she herself will define the bases of a new cultural Taylorism at the dawn of 2020. A few days before the release of her seventh album, Lover, She thus promised to re-record her first six albums to recover the future royalties, the rights of which were torn from her by Scooter Braun, also manager of Kanye West and Justin Bieber, who has just bought the Big Machine Label Group on which the American had been releasing her hits since she was 16. She accuses the mogul in passing of having tried to undermine her career with the help of her protégés, who were not very fond of her.
There is no doubt that Taylor Swift in the studio will have no trouble finding the automatic voice of her hits, like a cheerleader forced to support the opposing team, to harmless melodies composed without passion by Max Martin (also known for his hits for Britney Spears) and Jack Antonoff. It was still the case on his previous album, Reputation, in 2017, in the form of a settling of scores full of rage (not enough for Hellfest, let’s calm down), after she was pinned on her private life and tried to instrumentize as an armed arm of the far right , simply because she had refused to take part in the electoral debate.
At almost 30 years old, although she got rid of Max Martin in production, her stint on a new label, a major, did not come with the hoped-for release. Lover forms a smooth surface of 18 tracks, mostly prefabricated. Even to describe the emotional gloom that seems to devour her, she remains faithful to this desire not to leave any splinter or the slightest loophole through which to rush. Less dedicated to the hustle and bustle of pompoms and lunging, it returns to ballads without too much banality, as on The Archer, where it is accompanied by simple arpeggios and calls a lot to the pop purity of the Swedish Robyn, or even more evaporated on Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince, Lana Del Rey way. The consumer of Lover may prefer to zap to the poppy Paper Rings, its carefree rockabilly rhythm, less guitars: “I like what glitters but I would marry you with a paper ring”, we accept.
Perhaps her most personal choice is to invite the Dixie Chicks, a former anti-Bush protest force, and childhood idols of Swift when she was growing up in Nashville, on Soon You’ll Get Better, a pious title which also marks his return to country and banjo for his mother suffering from cancer. Reduced to her annoyance to an innocent jug and the nickname “America’s Sweetheart”, Swift shifts her defense system and this time attacks homophobic trolls on You Need to Calm Down. On the strictly feminist side, always surrounded by a large team of male producers (aside from St Vincent, on a Cruel Summer who does not force her talent), she tries The Man (after Beyoncé and her If I Were a Boy, Chilla or Diane Tell for If I was a man). She who was able to blow the glass ceiling with her multiple awards evokes the sexist double standards of success by changing boots: “I’m tired of running as fast as I can / of wondering if I could be faster if I was a man.” The 18 titles of Lover, who generate as little love as they give, put themselves out of the race, no matter how fast.