Last year, Taylor Swift released a song called “You Need To Calm Down,” and it seems that she’s talking her own advice on her new album. Yesterday, Taylor Swift surprised fans by announcing that she was going to release her latest effort — folklore — at midnight. She gave some details, including that she collaborated once again with Jack Antonoff (with whom she’d worked on past projects, including Reputation and Lover) as well as indie rockers Aaron Dessner of the National and Bon Iver. It was immediately clear that the album wasn’t going to be like her past albums.
And despite Antonoff’s presence (he’s a member of the pop group fun., and has also collaborated with Sia, Troye Sivan, Lorde, Pink, Sara Bareilles and the [former Dixie] Chicks, among others), there aren’t any “bangers” on the album: Variety says that her 2012 album Red “seems like a Chainsmokers album compared to the wholly banger-free folklore, which lives up to the first half of its title by divesting itself of any lingering traces of Max Martin-ized dance-pop and presenting Swift, afresh, as your favorite new indie-electro-folk/chamber-pop balladeer.”
Still, it’s already a huge critical success, just hours after being released: Billboard called it a “tour de force” while Variety said that “Swift has become the first major pop artist to deliver a first-rank album that went from germination to being completely locked down in the midst of a national lockdown.” Indeed, it seems to be an album made during, and for, our times. As Teen Vogue points out, “It’s the album embodiment of sitting with uncomfortable feelings or with months of isolated self-reflection. It deals in sads big and small, but the big ones are treated so close and careful they feel fragile. Some are open wounds, and some are scars, and maybe neither are getting smaller, we’re just getting used to carrying them.” USA Today said that folklore “is the album Taylor Swift was born to make,” and called it “her best ever,” noting that “while plenty of pop luminaries such as Justin Timberlake (Man of the Woods) and Lady Gaga (Joanne) have taken detours into stripped-down folk/soft rock, none have made the transition as seamlessly as Swift, who reminds us once again that she’s the most gifted songwriter in music today.”
But the album isn’t just going over well with critics: here’s what the fans have been saying (and judging by social media response, the sentiment is overwhelmingly positive).