Alright gang, here we are, back again together so much sooner than expected to hear ALL of my unfiltered thoughts on every single song off of T’s new album. I’ve spent the entire weekend getting in my feels and listening to it so that I can bring you some hot takes on where her 8th studio album falls in the lineup. Right out the gate, this surprise drop inconvenienced me because I wasn’t able to skip on over to Target and get a hard copy for all of my listens. I’m still waiting on my deluxe edition to be shipped so I had to listen to Spotify like a poor (why aren’t digital downloads a thing when you purchase a physical CD?) which also means that I will not be able to review the bonus track until that bad boy arrives. Otherwise, let’s dive in to all the tales she told on this album.
1. the 1. “I’m doing good, I’m on some new shit” is one HELL of a way to kick off a surprise album. Also this is now the only appropriate response to “how are you?” for the rest of 2020. Strong first track and pretty much everyone who I yapped about this album to agreed. It’s easily my favorite song on folklore. And that’s saying a lot as Taylor just keeps making her albums longer and longer, thus forcing me to really pull a lot of commentary out of my ass these days to deliver these track by tracks blogs. Anywho, great beat to this and loving that it plays right into my hands of being a bitter cynic that thinks no one stays together anymore with “you know the greatest loves of all time are over now.”
Best Lyric: I’m doing good, I’m on some new shit (OBVIOUSLY)
2. cardigan. I gave a brief review of cardigan while I was listening for the first time and I really hated that she chose this song to do the music video. I immediately gravitated to like 6 or 7 other songs upon first listen to this album and cardigan was not one of them. The music video was fine, the song is fine, but it was tough to be the first snippet of this album I heard, especially while forcing myself to stay awake past my bedtime to rabidly consume it. I think she made it the “single” so to speak because it definitely sets the weird hipster artistic vibes she’s aiming for on this album. Also amazing marketing tool by her once again to send influencers Taylor Swift cardigans. Kinda shitty I didn’t get one, I basically live in the snowbelt of America and could really use a cozy cardigan with Taylor Swift’s name on it but WHATEVER Tay.
Best Lyric: And when you are young, they assume you know nothing (it’s true tho.)
3. the last great american dynasty. So the biggest thing I took away from this album is that Taylor basically wanted to tell other people’s stories. Real, made up, old, new, whatever. So as literally every single foaming at the mouth news outlet will talk about how each song is about Joe or Karlie Kloss (seriously, relax on the lesbian theories with those two)–I’m choosing to just enjoy the stories she’s telling and not overthink who they’re about. So I’m firmly Team Rebekah on this one. I love a divorcee who loves a good party. As far as the sound goes on this one, “I had a marvelous time” in that breathy Wildest Dreams voice really hits different. Made this a top song for me. That and the fact that she uses the word gauche. If I read that by itself I would never pronounce it correctly. But now that Taylor has sang it, I’m basically a wordsmith. Couldn’t tell you what I learned in college, a degree I’ll be paying for for the rest of my life, but now I know that gauche rhymes with goes and is a word for unsophisticated.
Best Lyric: The wedding was charming, if a little gauche / There’s only so far new money goes
4. exhile (ft. Bon Iver). I’ve never been a huge Bon Iver guy because he’s got a real sadboi voice and you certainly need to be in a mood for that type of music but call me a sadboi because I’m LOVING this song. It’s also very important for me to say (and this will ONLY resonate with One Tree Hill stans) this is a Peyton song and there’s no other way around it. Specifically, a Peyton season 5 post-rejecting Lucas’s proposal and having to see him move on with someone else. When she’s opening that record label in Tree Hill and just basking in The National’s deep voice sadness:
Ya that’s where I’m at with this song. And that’s fine. Peyton was whiny as hell and had two moms die and a casual psycho stalker so it’s not like her life was peppy but we’ve all had some Peyton moments where you just want to drown in haunting voices and feel sorry about your life. This is the PERFECT song to do that to.
Best Lyric:I think I’ve seen this film before / And I didn’t like the ending (not the first time she’ll reference a film on this album)
5. my tears ricochet. Taylor coincidentally dropped her MOST romantic album last year at the same exact time I was going through a breakup. Obviously I was bitter as hell and not having an easy time identifying with her rainbows of LOVE songs which really put a damper not only on how I viewed the album, but also how difficult it was for me to review it. Like ok, we get it you’re in love EYE ROLL, whatever. It wasn’t a good time for her to brag about it in my personal life and honestly it was rude of her to not take that into consideration. The point of that ramble was to say that if Lover was about Love, folklore is about loss and struggle. AND THAT’S WHERE I LIVE, BABY. I’m LOVING this album because nobody knows how to get down in the dumps like ya gurl the Salty Ju. Dramatic lyrics about breakups? PILE IT ON ME, BOO. SO now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s first confront her singing “cause I looooooooved you, I swear I looooooved you” in an Irish brogue. We gonna let that one slide? Her dramatics in love and loss have caused her to try out a new accent? Besides that little slip up, I’m all in on this song.
Best Lyric: And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake? (Every drama queen’s first post-breakup caption SEND.)
6. mirrorball. This was the first one I came across in the lineup of listening that I wasn’t crazy about. It’ll probably be a skip for me. Definitely a retro feel to it of the times when dance contests were all the rage. To be perfectly honest I kept thinking of the episode of Gilmore Girls where they do the dance marathon and wear 50’s girl outfits and Dean dumps Rory. So apparently I’m just going to relate every song off of this album back to mid-2000s teen shows. Super fitting for me.
Best Lyric: And I’m still a believer, but I don’t know why
7. seven. Another skip for me unless I’m really wanting to get in touch with my Lilith Fair side. If I may relate it back to another pivotal teen show in my life, this 90’s chick singer throaty vibe she’s throwing sounds like something that would be on Dawson’s Creek. I half expect to see Joey tucking her hair behind her big ass ears and Dawson talking about how badly he wants to stop talking about sex and start having it in his giant army green cable knit sweater. I’m sorry. I can’t stop. I’m a teen soap monster.
Best Lyric: And I think you should come live with me / And we can be pirates (cause why not?)
8. august. Ok she got me back on this one. Summer is my favorite season of all time and also feels like it goes SO fast, so leave it to Taylor to put that into beautiful words and also use comparisons to wine to get my attention. August is the Sunday night scaries of summer. And we’re almost there, unfortunately so this is hitting a little too close to home right now. I’m not ready for fall. I’m NEVER READY FOR FALL. What helps a little bit is toward the end of the song when she gets a little pep in her step with “remember when I pulled up and said get in the car” and it was giving me a little Getaway Car flashback. Or, in dumber terms, my note in my phone for that part of the song is “YAAASSSSSSS.”
Best Lyric: For me, it was enough / To live for the hope of it all
9. this is me trying. This falls in middle ground territory. This song is neither great nor terrible. It’s got a lot of the elements that we’ve already seen her leaning into on this album. References to a failed relationship being a film, a breathy orgasmic outburst (AT LEAST I’M TRYING) and killer lyrics. The person contributing to lyrics genius claims this is a Taylor taking credit for her flaws in relationships song, and yet there’s a HEAVY undertone of this individual being an alcoholic, which I don’t believe Taylor is, so I think her fans really need to cool it on reading into every song relating directly back to her life. Also there’s a real divide between fans who think she secretly married Joe and fans who think she broke up with him and let me be clear ALL OF THESE THEORIES ARE CONCLUDED FROM PEOPLE OVER-ANALYZING HER LYRICS. God quarantine needs to end cause we all need to get a life. (FTR, I’m firmly in the Joe is her end game camp…so if they’re married I wouldn’t be surprised.)
Best Lyric: They told me all of my cages were mental / So I got wasted like all my potential / And my words shoot to kill when I’m mad / I have a lot of regrets about that (B2B bomb lyrics. Verse 2 packed a punch.)
10. illicit affairs. Maybe Tay wrote this one about her good bud JT. BAM. Ricochet shot. (I’ll never be over JT being a public cheater, oBViOuSlY.) I do really like this song for her going up into the high notes for random words. It’s like the musician version of putting a word in bold. I also giggled at “tell your friends you’re going for a run, you’ll be flushed when you return.” As if anyone could pass off banging in a hotel room as a quick jog.
Best Lyric: And you know damn well / For you, I would ruin myself / A million little times
11. invisible string. Oohh shit we’ve got a little banjo in the mix now! What a nice way to spice things up as I was just starting to move into a comatose state of synths. For the record, this does seem like a song about Joe. She had to sneak one in somewhere. It was only fair. So we’ll rap about how she references the song Bad Blood, which apparently Joe heard in a cab in LA, a reference to the yogurt shop he used to work at, the dive bar where they hung out that she referenced in delicate and then there’s a little part about boys who broke her heart and now she sends their babies presents. Which led to an unfortunate headline on one of the gossip rags about how Taylor Swift is sending Joe Jonas a baby gift. And honestly, she dated Joe for a brief mo when she was like 18 and he dumped her on a 30 second phone call so are we really doing a callback to that garbage relashe? I feel like people are so desp to create headlines out of her lyrics that they’re really starting to reach. Either way, another lovely ode to her current relationship–he gets paper rings AND invisible strings.
Best Lyric: Hell was the journey but it brought me heaven
12. mad woman. Our first Taylor Swift F bomb. THIS IS AN OCCASION. Taylor has been OVERLY PG on most of her albums. I believe we got our first swear on Reputation (shit) and nothing has ever escalated beyond that. So to get a straight F bomb–AND have it not be the only one on this album. Praise be, our girl’s all grown up! My trash mouth that can’t STOP F bombs from flying is v. proud of her for this. But also this is a classic Taylor feminist song. Pointing out the double standards of men vs. woman and showing that passionate females are treated like they should be committed. This tune could be a GREAT soundtrack for the latest Dirty John season because Betty Broderick was a straight up MAD WOMAN.
Best Lyric: Or does she mouth, “Fuck you forever”? (Adding forever in really makes this curse slap harder.)
13. epiphany. This is a church hymn. Since I’m not in the business of listening to prayers, chants and church jingles in my free time, I’m fully out on this song. It’s like the “it’s nice to have a friend” of this album. Immediate skip. Sorry not sorry. It’s apparently about her grandfather serving in the war, which is ironic because it gives me PTSD to high school when I had to go to church every Sunday and if I missed one I had to go to confession. (Obviously that is said with the most sarcasm, being at war has no comparison to going to church in white suburbia so pls don’t cancel me.) TYSM.
Best Lyric: Only twenty minutes to sleep / But you dream of some epiphany / Just one single glimpse of relief / To make some sense of what you’ve seen
14. betty. This was like ALL THE RAGE the day the album came out that Taylor released the name of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynold’s third child that they hadn’t announced yet. To think that Taylor who has everything planned and pre-meditated about her music and her marketing and how she puts herself out there would have just casually decided to out a child’s name without their parent’s permission is straight idiotic. I can guarantee you that she wrote the song and immediately sent it to them and asked for their feedback. So everyone trying to call her a bad friend needs to take a page from Lover and CALM DOWN. She happened to toss their collection of RANDOM ASS names into this song. Like honestly Blake and Ryan seem pretty normal (for being gorgeous and rich celebs) and yet named their three girls James, Inez & Betty. K. Anyway, now that we’ve established that she used their names and they have absolutely nothing to do with the song, let’s talk about how this is an OG Taylor smash. It’s got all of the early, crimped hair, Christmas Tree farm in backwoods PA sounds to it and I love this nostalgic flashback. That harmonica, OOOooOO Baby. Also, notably, another F bomb.
Best Lyric: Standing in your cardigan / Kissin’ in my car again (what a rhyme.)
15. peace. The second this song started I was like am I listening to a John Mayer song? That guitar coming in right off the bat was an ode to J.May if I’ve ever heard one. And guess what? I love John Mayer so this worked out perfectly. I dig the stripped down guitar vibes and also this song had the most ME lyric of all time (see below) that I quite literally gasped when she sang it. So that certainly helps.
Best Lyric: I’d give you my sunshine, give you my best / But the rain is always gonna come if you’re standin’ with me (UM HI IT’S ME, PERPETUAL RAIN CLOUD FOLLOWING WHEREVER I GO, WAITING TO DUMP A RAINSTORM RIGHT ON MY HEAD.)
16. hoax. Not a strong finish for me. It sounds a lot like cardigan so this makes sense. It’s just giving me uneasy, eerie feels. Considering her drowning with her piano in dark choppy waters for the cardigan video gave me night terrors, I’m not so into feeling the creeps from a song. So moving forward, folklore will start with the 1 and end with peace. And that’s a wrap, folks.
Best Lyric: You knew you won so what’s the point of keeping score? (Another bomb sassy post-breakup zinger.)
BONUS TRACK – the lakes. TBD whenever my stupid CD comes in the mail. Thanks for making everything more complicated by cutting Target out of the deal, TAY.
OVERALL ALBUM NOTES: I may be biased because I’ve been a Taylor stan my whole life but I commend the way that she can create a whole mood for each album. She’s pushed herself to make albums that sound completely different from each other and are so cohesive like a CD storytime. There’s quite literally a T.Swift album for every vibe that you could be feeling and I think that’s a really cool way to approach music. I mean if you want to scream F the world, you hit up Reputation, if you want to brag about meeting your soulmate–you pop in Lover and if you want to have profound thoughts and tell ghost stories, you fire up this bad boy. Obviously this is a slower record and much more for deep listening and none of these will ever be called bops, BUT I would also argue that it’s her strongest songwriting record. She’s always been a phenomenal songwriter giving fans relatable lyrics, but reaching and telling other people’s stories just added to that and I’m guessing because it probably started from her just writing away while in quarantine. I too have been writing away while in quarantine but my writing has a lot of swears and I’ve never once used a word like clandestine because I couldn’t even tell you what it means. Different strokes for different folks. That’s why we love Taylor–the word play, the references & easter eggs and of course, the dramatics when it comes to loves lost, I think this was a hot to trot lyrical masterpiece.