Two full years ago, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her third studio album, Speak Now. Kind of hard to believe, right? Six of the album’s tracks were released as hit singles, and it’s the only album in history to have 17 tracks scale the US Billboard Hot 100. With the success of Speak Now still omnipresent on the charts, the radio, and the television screen, Swift serves up a new batch of country-pop candy with Red, a 16-track album with six bonus tracks.
Most top 40 listeners are familiar with Swift’s first single off Red: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. While the track isn’t the only upbeat radio-shouter, Red archives some of Swift’s hardest-hitting melodies and lyrics to date, sandwiched in between grin-inducing numbers, like We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.
And that’s what Swift does best. She hooks you with catchy songs like You Belong With Me or Mean, and then she reels you in with heart-breaking titles like Fifteen or Dear John. Now fully in her control, T. Swift fans are helpless against revealing tracks like Better Than Revenge.
Red is totally on board for this forumla, starting off with State of Grace, Red and Treacherous. The first track opens softly, while the second track moves into catchier territory with an electronic-sounding chorus. Treacherous sounds like classic Taylor Swift with a slow beat, bittersweet lyrics and a slight country bias.
I Know You Were Trouble sits as slot number four, pushing the boundaries Swift set in the chorus of Red. Some like to argue that I Knew You Were Trouble is full-on dubstep, with somewhat of a drop. “Dubstep” is a stretch for this track, but it’s unlike anything Swift’s ever produced. The song’s different sections – verses, chorus, etc. – all sound radically different from each other yet they connect perfectly.
Next we get All Too Well, another melancholy slow-jam for Swift’s resume, and 22, the catchiest song on the album aside from We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Swift seems to declare her age in each album (Fifteen from Fifteen and Dear John from Speak Now), and Red is no exception. I Knew You Were Trouble may be the planned dance-song of the album, but personally, I’m more inclined to move at the chorus of 22.
I Almost Do plays after 22, and it’s the polar opposite of its track listing predecessor. The song is mildly reminiscent of Back to December, appealing to the emotional nature of anyone with a soft side. Before listeners get too sad, Swift comes to the rescue with We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together as track number eight.
The next track is Stay Stay Stay, another cheerful song, followed by The Last Time, one of the album’s standouts. The Last Time prominently features Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol in somewhat of a duet with Swift. The only modern Swift song as bleak as this haunting, slow-paced track is probably Safe & Sound from The Hunger Games soundtrack.
Red finished up with six songs that meet Swift’s standards without being particularly memorable, perhaps except for Everything Has Changed, featuring Ed Sheeran, an acoustic-sounding country ballad. If you buy the deluxe edition of Red, you’ll get six more tracks, including an acoustic version of State of Graces and demos of Red and Treacherous.
With numerous Grammys and more hit singles than anyone can really hope for at her young age, Taylor Swift knows what she’s doing with Red. She sticks to what she’s done best in the past, with songs like 22, while experimenting and trying new things. Fans of Speak Now or any of Swift’s previous albums will surely enjoy Red, while the album will likely produce a handful of singles appealing to a mass audience.
Have you listened to Taylor Swift’s latest album, Red? Let us know your thoughts on the album or the country-pop princess in the comments.