Now, let us be honest for a minute. I am renowned for my articles of a satirical nature – lest we forget the hilarity of my review of Now! 81, my seminal exposé on ‘the History of Music’, or my contribution to the realm of ‘Popstar Marriages that I am Bitter about’. Most academics of such distinction would retire, living comfortably off consultancy proceeds, royalties, and the occasional guest judge slot on Britain’s Got Talent; but not I! No, for you see, dear readers – I am comfortably inebriated, and the music sub-editor of the St Andrews Tribe Magazine has requested that I write another article for this week’s edition. And, by good fortune, the new Taylor Swift album is legitimately worthy of my raptures. I swear, genuinely, that this is not another sardonic masterpiece. Genuinely, Taylor Swift is the Bob Dylan of our era – except good, and well fit. Like, well fit.
Taylor Swift is – and this is not even the alcohol talking – everything that is right with music nowadays. She is dedicated; her parents gave up a comfortable life as Bank of America financial advisors to support her career as a country music starlet in Nashville. She pursued a career in music, off her own impulsion, within the role of ‘that girl what sings the national anthem at the start of baseball games’, for years. I open a fresh can of Magner’s Cider and lick the ejected foam off my laptop screen. Since her début, the undeniably country, enigmatically-named, album ‘Taylor Swift’, she has been nothing but sincere, unpretentious and pop-perfect. Every song has been true to her country-music heritage, and almost all have been well-crafted and catchy; see ‘Picture to Burn’, ‘You Belong with Me’, ‘Love Story’, and plentiful others. She even writes the majority of her own material; I would have married her by now, if females did not have a say in the matter.
Taylor Swift’s latest album opens with ‘State of Grace’, a song that is presumably quite good. Unfortunately it is 2 a.m., and I am picking pieces of tuna covered in chilli oil off of my torso because I felt like a midnight snack before getting down to the grizzly job of reviewing. So I ignore it. Luckily, I have heard the eponymous second track, ‘Red’, penned exclusively by Swift. It is, like most of Swift’s catalogue, catchy and personal. The chorus is progressive and modern, despite the remainder of the song having a clear folk heritage. Skipping another track brings us to ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’; in a bizarre but exciting twist, this unshakable tune practically leans on dubstep for its chorus – or, as it was known a few years ago, playing triplets on a keyboard. Most importantly, it works; as does track six, ’22’, perhaps the most catchy of all, excluding the inevitable and ineluctable single ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together’.
The compulsory, under-the-radar, slow-burner, hidden gem of every classic album comes in the form of ‘Stay Stay Stay’; perhaps sticking closest to Taylor’s country pedigree, it is both memorable and yet somehow original. A small qualm is that all her songs seem to be about her having problems with boyfriends. Who on earth would mess about when they had managed to bag the richest, sweetest, most beautiful of all the country-pop luminaries that The Tribe critiques? A complete prick, I assume. Take me, Taylor. Take me.
One of my absolute favourites is non-album bonus ‘Girl At Home’; now, I don’t want to compare this to such B-Side classics as Oasis’s ‘the Masterplan’, but if Noel Gallagher had penned this back in 1995 he wouldn’t have to constantly answer to the name of ‘the Taylor Swift of 1990s BritPop’. Album closer, ‘Begin Again’, is one of the album’s finest and most tender moments. But, frankly, you are probably still assuming that I’m being facetious. It’s actually great though. There is also a song somewhere in there where Taylor Swift duets with Ed Sheeran, but I refuse to listen to it. You may question the principles of a reviewer that will give Taylor Swift five stars, but refuses to listen to Ed Sheeran. Don’t bother though. Just assume that I’m right.
So, does Taylor Swift’s Red album correspond to our generation’s version of the Beatles’ White Album? Probably, yes. But hopefully she won’t marry Yoko Ono and screw everything up; she will, instead, marry me, despite the fact that she is easily a foot taller than me in heels (by which I mean me in heels, her in flats). But seriously, listen to it. It is so much better than any of the Indie nonsense The Tribe will review in the next four years. So crack open a Magners, load ‘Red’ onto your iPod, get inebriated and write a review of it that you will probably regret come morning-time.