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Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Tortured Poets Department


I figured us, tortured poets, were in for a treat when The Tortured Poets Department was announced. But holy goddess, I did not expect this much!

It is a double album, one I’m still not fully done processing. You thought there would be around 15 songs? Nope. There are over 30! It is lengthy. Multidimensional, too. I’ve listened to it. I’ve pondered it. I’ve casually hummed and sang along to it. Swayed and danced. But I’m still far from fully grasping it and all that it contains. And maybe expecting to do so around the release date is unrealistic and not even ideal. The Tortured Poets Department is an entire realm to be transported to and be in for months - perhaps years. It is the work of letting go of what is being carried. And to do that, you must dig into the torture. It’s like roots reaching to hell so that branches can reach to heaven. While simultaneously letting light meet with darkness and vice-versa. This integrative and expansive process takes time.

So I found it suitable and appropriate that it is so mellow. Rather than have a variety of songs wildly varying from each other, all of them retain the same certain moods and give off the same certain vibes while the lyrics and the stories they tell change within what The Tortured Poets Department is fundamentally about. It’s nostalgic, hypnotic, and floaty. As if you are submerging into the sea of your subconscious, where your past is. Or just turning back time and getting light-headed on the trip there. And there’s sadness and anger to deal with regardless.

It can be overwhelming. I wouldn’t recommend rushing through the album. Less so to form opinions, which would be quick but superficial. I would say that this is music to sit or lie down with. Dwell on it some during and afterward. Then let “a-ha” moments come to you. At least when aspiring to thoroughly take it in. You may speculate and attempt to decipher what or who each track is about, as the album covers a wide range of situations and circumstances, but there is significance and meaning in what is expressed regardless.

TTPD is not for the stiff and the shallow who wish to remain as such. It is filled with prompts and stimulants that can shake, bend, and take you out of your comfort zone. Not as abruptly as TS can and has been on other occasions, but still quite candidly. It comes across as having plenty of harsh truths to say but holding one’s tongue - or pen. Sparing some pain and saving you from what you’re not ready for, letting you realize the rest for yourself. If you don’t wish to meet yourself past your illusions or your surface levels, then you might not enjoy paying attention to it.

There have been criticisms about how it all sounds the same. But it doesn’t exactly. This misses the fact that, in such cases, you can tune into a state where you are more perceptive and sensitive to subtle differences, which you will need for nuanced introspection.

There have been criticisms about how Taylor is supposedly trying to be something she is not. But I view it more as tapping into other aspects of herself, her life, and what surrounds her, engaging in other kinds of alchemical transmutations for restoration and growth. Hers and those of whoever resonates with any of it. And it’s not like she has ever been someone to stick to a single style. She is always exploring and experimenting (within reason).

There have been criticisms about being too much. Personally, I don’t get tired. I may get momentarily overwhelmed or even stressed when there is a lot going on, but nobody is forcing me to consume and digest all of it as fast as I possibly can. And when I notice that I’m pressuring myself to, I can just take a deep breath and come back to my senses so that I will see and remember that I should manage myself better. It might indeed be a problem for people with fear of missing out or whose job is to immediately respond, in one way or another, to media. But that’s not the case for everyone.

On the other hand, I’ve been delighted by the positive reactions it has garnered. People relating, joking, and more. Many have welcomed TTPD with open arms or at least an open mind to let it gradually win them over. And as the trendsetter that TS is, I won’t be surprised if for a while brooding is more embraced. Something that should be prescribed in this era of mere appearances.

My only concern is why. Why this colossal stream of pent-up thoughts and emotions? She is pouring her soul out. Sharing what seem to be not only recent but long-ago occurrences. Letting go of it all. So what is next? This cannot be her last album! Gotta at least have a 13th one (imagine what she could do with it)! But if this means she’s taking a long break to recover from everything she’s gone and put herself through lately, have new experiences and make new memories, it is totally understandable and deserved! I’d miss her but I’d wait. As for what is going on right now, I am absolutely into The Tortured Poets Department and anything else that’s coming out of it!