In the album teaser of The Tortured Poets Department, Taylor Swift writes how alls fair in love and poetry...
In the album teaser of “The Tortured Poets Department,” Taylor Swift writes how “all’s fair in love and poetry…”
“The Tortured Poets Department” by Taylor Swift. Photo Courtesy of Republic Records.

Chairman of “The Tortured Poets Department,” Taylor Swift can do it all with a broken heart

Taylor Swift released “The Tortured Poets Department” on April 19, 2024, at midnight, surprising Swifties with an LP titled “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” just two hours later. Here’s a music review of her 11th album in 11 paragraphs.

The latest album released on Friday, April 19, 2024, that broke Spotify’s record of most-streamed album in 24 hours is not manufactured from the refined studio of a successful billionaire with four Grammys engraved with “Album of the Year.”

“The Tortured Poets Department” (TTPD) is a raw, unfiltered account of the deepest agonies of a sincere poet, one hand penning lyrics on a tear-soaked page, one hand fingering chords on a blood-stained piano. 

In this department, tortured poet Taylor Swift makes it evident that all that is gold does not glitter. In the quirky “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” Swift outlines a juxtaposition between the dreary lyrics with a party beat, grinning along with the lyrics of “I’m so depressed, I act like it’s my birthday every day” and “I cry a lot but I am so productive, it’s an art,” spotlighting media’s standards placed upon her through “lights, camera, *****, smile.” In the playground anthem “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys,” she excitedly sings “my boy only breaks his favorite toys, toys/I’m queen of sand castles he destroys…he saw forever so he smashed it up,” referencing the tension in her relationship in how her partner childishly hurts everything she holds dear. 

At times, she’s chanting about her restrictions– limits forced upon her due to criticisms from the press about her career, eras and relationships. In the empowering “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?,” she alternates between a question-and-answer sequence, shouting “Who’s afraid of little old me?” to be resolved by the collected and self-righteous “you should be.” Briefly in love in authentic country wedding hymn “But Daddy I Love Him,” Swift is unrestrained as she fights ideals of being a “dutiful daughter,” pleading to be with the one she wants. For a short time in “Fresh Out The Slammer,” she seems to “know who (her) first call will be to” when she’s “fresh out the slammer” of toxic situations. 

If long-suffering propriety is what they want from me, they don’t know how you’ve haunted me so stunningly.”

— Guilty as Sin


Swift’s decision to disregard electropop and heavy instrumentation in much of TTPD is quite a bold move, considering the shift to electronic music in recent years. Instead, she retrospectively pulled the Fearless-era acoustic guitar back in many of TTPD’s songs. Guitar-based “The Albatross” found itself used as a double-edged sword: when “she’s the albatross, she is here to destroy you;” however, when Swift declares herself as the albatross, she “swept in at the rescue.” 

The guitar is further employed in “I Hate It Here,” where Swift delicately mourns her miseries in her existing state and how she is forced to “save all (her) romanticism for (her) inner life.” Heartbreak is all too familiar for Swift to write with simplistic woeful rhymes; at peak lyricism, Swift channels her layers-deep anguish by creating multi-dimensional settings in her lyrics. The brooding guitar beat strums in “I Hate It Here” create the imagery of an ethereal afterlife on another planet, with lyrics drawing scenes of “lunar valleys in my mind.” 

On other tracks, her strained voice combined with minimalistic instrumentals genuinely reflects her cut pain. In “So Long, London,” the steady synth beats accompany her gradual frustration as she helplessly asks, “Just how low did you think I’d go? Before I’d self-implode; before I’d have to go be free.” In similar languid track Fortnight, featuring Post Malone, she effortlessly admits “I love you, it’s ruining my life.”

You look like Clara Bow/In this light, remarkable/All your life, did you know/You’d be picked like a rose?”

— Clara Bow

The strings ballad “I Look in People’s Windows” finds a wistful Swift regretting her past decisions, agonizingly whispering to “I look in people’s windows in case you’re at their table; what if your eyes looked up and met mine.” Through the slow “Down Bad,” she reminisces how “for a moment, (she) knew cosmic love/now (she’s) down bad crying at the gym.” 

Never sparing a Disney ending in a break-up album, Swift ended many TTPD songs on a tragic note. In “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can),” she ends the song by addressing the parenthetical phrase, timidly whispering, “maybe I can’t.” In subsequent track “loml,” her unconventional decision to title the song in both its abbreviated form and through the lowercase aesthetic is a deliberate one– she defeatingly sighs the phrase “love of my life” throughout the entire song but ends with an earnest “loss of my life.” 

The tortured poet closed her book of poems with the timeless piano ballad “The Manuscript.” This interchange between the external narrator and internal characters shocks listeners with the surprise ending, as the narrator states “now and then I re-read the manuscript, but the story isn’t mine anymore.”

In TTPD, Swift delivers her authentic self, beyond what she is marketed in the spotlight; TTPD demonstrates how Swift not only writes for us to sympathize for her, but also where she can empathize with us. At her core, she can relate to all the tortured poets who turn to the pen and piano on both their brightest and darkest days.


Rating: 09.31/10.00

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About the Contributor
Sophie Nguyen
Sophie Nguyen, Editor
Sophie is a junior and Opinions Editor. This is her third year on the Gazette staff.

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  • K

    Kadi ScottApr 25, 2024 at 5:07 pm

    Guys, I clicked on a random song wanting to experience what the hype was about, it was “So Long, London” and I immediately came to the conclusion that it sounds awfully familiar to “Summertime Sadness” by Lana del Rey. Not so much as a rip off of the song but it certainly has the same vibe. Not a hater for Taylor but I much more prefer Lana’s version.

  • K

    Karam DavidApr 23, 2024 at 8:58 am

    This album is horrible, I found it very repetitive and unnatural. Very overrated artist with little to none good songs!

    • M

      matteoApr 24, 2024 at 9:53 am