Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’: Review Revue

Bradley Stern | October 27, 2014 6:41 am

Welcome to 1989!

After what’s seemed like a full year’s worth of promotional duties packed into the past one or two months, Taylor Swift‘s first official foray into pop music has finally arrived.

The sparkling set, which includes #1 smash “Shake It Off,” “Out Of The Woods” and her effervescent ode to the Big Apple “Welcome To New York,” is already on track to becoming one of the year’s highest sellers (if not the highest seller), but how does it stack up among music critics ’round the world?

Check out what the critics are saying after the jump.

:: Billboard gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, and hailed 1989 as her “best work” to date: “Executive-produced by Swift and Martin, two of the all-time biggest hitmakers, the LP could have been an overstuffed Frankenstein of battling ideas. But instead it’s Swift’s best work — a sophisticated pop tour de force that deserves to be as popular commercially as with Robyn-worshipping bloggers; an album that finds Swift meeting Katy and Miley and Pink on their home turf and staring them down.”

:: TIME also praised the record, as well as its ability to distract from the tabloid-ready subject matter at hand: “As long as Swift writes autobiographically, her romantic affairs will be the subject of speculation, but it’s the expertly crafted sound of 1989 that marks her most impressive sleight of hand yet–shifting the focus away from her past and onto her music, which is as smart and confident as it’s ever been. Who are these songs about? When they sound this good, who cares?”

:: The New York Times was similarly swept away, drawing a comparison to a certain universally hailed crooner: “By making pop with almost no contemporary references, Ms. Swift is aiming somewhere even higher, a mode of timelessness that few true pop stars — aside from, say, Adele, who has a vocal gift that demands such an approach — even bother aspiring to.”

:: The Guardian gave Taylor 4 out of 5 stars, but felt something was missing: “Swift’s fifth record is a bold, gossipy confection that plays to her strengths – strengths which pretty much define modern pop, with its obsession with the private lives of celebrities and its premium on heightened emotion. The album’s one failing? There’s no obvious single here as unequivocally great as I Knew You Were Trouble.”

:: The New York Daily News, however, found flaws in the subject matter, giving the album 3 out of 5 stars: “The teenage dreaminess of it all reeks of protecting market share. It suggests Swift didn’t dare try to grow, lest she leave her core fans – very young girls – behind. That strategy will thrill her record company and her financial advisor. But it leaves her looking stunted and scared. She ends up as a just a teen-pop machine – and as someone who has yet to figure out how to act her age.”

:: Telegraph gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, pointing out Tay’s avoidance of attaching to EDM trends: “Appropriately, for an album named after the year of Swift’s birth, the sound taps into a fad for the cheesy synths and sharp drum machines of the Eighties. There’s a wider range of dynamic contrast than you find on a lot of overproduced EDM hits but, none the less, the immediate impression is slick; candyfloss cheerleading, full of American fizz.”

:: While Entertainment Weekly gave the record a solid B: “In some small-minded circles, country has a junior-varsity rep, while pop is the Olympics. And Swift wants us to know she’s ready for her shot at an all-around gold medal. With 1989, she should earn at least a silver.”

:: And finally, Newsday was dancing all the way to the end: “This is her most cohesive album yet, state-of-the-art pop that raises the bar for all pop stars, especially those who need a whole assembly line of songwriters and producers to build something a fraction as strong as “1989.” And it’s also one pretty grand good-time dance party.”

What do you think of 1989? Sound off in the comments below!