A change was inevitably coming for Taylor Swift. So saturated in pop culture already from her many romances and magazine covers, a turn to this genre was written in the stars. And so came Shake It Off earlier this year, a cheesy offering of mainstream goodness that didn’t have even a whisper of country air about it. She sang about haters and fakers and dancing on her own; it was a spectacular musical meltdown that undoubtedly won her an even bigger litany of followers. So how do you follow up such a bold, vivacious track? By teaming up with Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff of course.
Out of the Woods, taken from the upcoming album 1989, signals yet another change in Taylor Swift’s musical ambitions. Moody and powerful, this track is laced with rumbling drums and mysterious subject matters. Gone are the bleachers and high-school sweethearts, and what remains is a very modern and interesting pop song that sounds, on one level, more mature and on another, like vintage Taylor Swift.
In a recent interview she mentions that the song speaks of the ‘fragility and breakable nature of some relationships’ and how she wanted the track to mirror the anxiety and ‘frantic feeling of wondering’ that coincides which such a coupling. This is definitely achieved. It is a heart-racing song, full of big percussion and hectic vocals exploding at a feverish pace. It is almost anthemic in its booming and delightfully repetitious nature, ensuring an instant hook in the charts. However, you have to wonder if this success is due more to Antonoff’s hand than Swift’s own? Undoubtedly her vocal talents and lyrics add to the song, but I feel his haunting backing track and heavy drums are what really elevates it out of obscurity.
Traditional Swift is still scattered throughout this song though. Nauseatingly adorable lyrics about moving furniture to dance and Polaroids are juxtaposed to darker sentiments of monsters and hospital rooms. The single certainly feels like it has been written for a romantic, Tumblr engrossed audience, but admittedly it does work. The result is a much more polished piece of prose from the songstress, retaining her painfully honest (if somewhat coy), diary-like quality, while branching out into a more accomplished and sophisticated composition.
All in all, Out of the Woods is a very good but not great offering from Ms Swift. Adventurous? Yes. New? Of course. Ground-breaking? Not so much. While I applaud Taylor Swift for trying something different, ultimately this doesn’t push the boat out enough for me. It’s catchy and interesting but I feel this is thanks to Antonoff’s contributions more so than anything. And look, I got through the entire review without mentioning Harry Styles! Oh wait…
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