Wishing a happy The Tortured Poets Department release day to all those who celebrate! Taylor Swift is set to release her 11th studio album at midnight on Friday, April 19, and Life & Style is taking you on the ~journey~ that is sure ensue as I, a self-identified “non-Swiftie” (not a Taylor Swift fan), post my up-to-the-minute live reactions of the record in full, song by song.

Here’s the thing — I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Taylor hater. No hater energy over here!! I’m just sort of indifferent to the musicality of pop’s reigning princess. Do I like some of her songs? Of course, I know all the words to her biggest hits. Did I recently attend a Taylor Swift night at my fave local bar? Sure — and it was hella fun! I even listened to 1989 (Taylor’s Version) when it dropped in October 2023, which was the first time I’ve ever listened to that album in full since most of the Taylor songs I do enjoy are on that record.

I would say I’m a casual Taylor Swift listener. I dabble in her brand of synth-pop from time to time. I partake in her sad girl anthems. But it’s all very surface-level, and I haven’t been able to get into any of her post-pandemic releases — which is the type of sound I’m expecting her to expand on with TTPD. So, when the clock strikes 12 on April 19, I’m going to open my Spotify app along with millions of Swifties and I’m diving in with an open mind and sharing my honest opinions and reactions to Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department.

‘Fortnight’ (feat. Post Malone)

I’m immediately vibing with this song. It’s moody and dreamy and synth-y — the sound that I think has become most synonymous with Taylor over her career. Also the Post Malone feature is enough to sell me on it. Who doesn’t love Posty?!

‘The Tortured Poets Department’

Two for two?? Who am I right now? It’s the synth. I’m a sucker for synth. The indie pop vibe is also giving Heartthrob-era Tegan and Sara (If you know, you know. If you don’t, do yourself a favor and Google it). This one also lyrically speaks to my souls as the owner of a vintage 1960s Royal typewriter in mint green. The Dylan Thomas reference? Taylor’s a gal after my own writer’s heart. (Although this is still my only second favorite Dylan Thomas reference in a song — my first favorite is by a band called Motorcycle Industry. IYKYK.) Also, the first thing I think of when I think about the Chelsea Hotel is more Sid and Nancy than Dylan Thomas and Patti Smith — but Tay and I can agree to disagree on that one.

‘My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys’

I’m literally shook because I’m three for three already. There’s something about the vibe of the album so far that harkens back to DIY indie shows at an abandoned Brooklyn warehouse in the early 2010s — the smell of spilled PBR and bummed American Spirit cigarettes. You just had to be there. I bet Taylor was there.

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‘Down Bad’

OK maybe this is the non-Swiftie talking but there’s something about Taylor saying “f–k it” that makes me feel like it’s off-brand for her? If it’s not, then fine, I’ll be wrong. But if it is, I like it? It’s giving ~edgy~. Also NOT this song being about Matty Healy??

‘So Long, London’

This is the big one right? The one that all the Swifties theorized was about Joe Alwyn? I thought it would be much more biting to be about the dude who she wasted six years of her life with, but maybe she was so far removed from the relationship and their split at this point that he just gets indifference. It’s a move, it says “I won’t let you have that power over me or my emotions,” and I respect it!

‘But Daddy I Love Him’

Guys. The Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney princess. I have no choice but to like this song right? I will say, I thought it was so funny how y’all were dissecting the absence of a comma in this song title. Funny in a cute way though, you know?

‘Fresh Out The Slammer’

Seven for seven. Perfectly dreamy. No notes!

Florence Welch
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‘Florida!!!’ (feat. Florence + The Machine)

Florence Welch. That’s it. That’s the reaction. What more do you need or want from this track? Taylor does a great job of letting Florence do her thing on here too. It would’ve been a missed opportunity if she didn’t. It’s giving they’re the daughters and Kate Bush is the mother.

‘Guilty as Sin?’

This feels like classic Taylor. Simple, unabashed Taylor. This is what makes her her.

‘Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?’

Another moody, ethereal track — even cinematic? I’m surprised at how cohesive this album is so far. Dare I say all heaters? I honestly can’t find one thing to dislike.

‘I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)’

If the last track was moody in an ethereal way, this one is moody in haunting way. Her vocal deliveries on this record so far are giving exactly what they need to give in each track.

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David M. Benett / Getty Images


This is the one right? The one the Swifties were more hype for? It’s a classic Taylor ballad. I think the heavy bass against the delicate piano in this track is an interesting choice — either a way to make the song fit cohesively with the rest of the songs on the album or a way to take a song that maybe was written before or after the vibe was set and make it work. Either way, I’m not mad about it!

‘I Can Do It With a Broken Heart’

There’s just something about sad, depressing lyrics set to a dance beat dripping in synth that just really speaks to me. Am I saying this song speaks to me? Yes. Yes, I am.

‘The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived’

That sigh at the beginning is all I needed to hear to get the vibes. Every woman who has ever been disappointed in man has sighed that sigh. The song that follows just expands on that. Perfection.

‘The Alchemy’

A Travis Kelce song?? The football references? Fans were convinced they wouldn’t get a Trav song, but here it is and it’s clear as day. I love love, I love love songs and I love Travis and Taylor together, so this one just makes sense.

Taylor Swift Feels ‘Safe and Protected’ Amid Romance With Boyfriend Travis Kelce
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

‘Clara Bow’

Did every millennial have a phase where they were just into Golden Age Hollywood movie stars? Because it’s fitting that she has a Taylor Swift song named after her — she was THAT girl! Also, not the Stevie Nicks reference? Not the astrology reference? A girl after my own witchy heart.

Post Mortem

Y’all like how I used a Taylor reference there? OK, so here’s my final verdict: that was literally a journey, a super fun one that started with me questioning ‘Who am I?’ And this is who I am: a millennial who had a Golden Age of Hollywood phase, who was obsessed with the beat poets and the punks and who came of age when indie dance pop was at its peak. And guess what? Apparently, so is Taylor Swift.