2LP, Picture Disc
Big Machine Records (2017) US, EU
When every syllable and each musical note will be picked apart and pored over, it would have surprise no one if Taylor Swift retreated back to the carefully manicured cliché. That her hugely anticipated sixth studio album, 2017's Reputation, took such a confrontational (but not always confessional) position demonstrates again the fierce determination that has characterized her career. The thrilling electro-pop of Reputation's lead single, "Look What You Made Me Do," is so far removed from Taylor's 2006 debut album as to make comparison utterly redundant. If the 15-song album drew on any pedigree, it drew from Red and 2014's 1989, which saw Taylor step away from her country roots and forge a new all-out pop career. But if 1989 was a decisive but largely comfortable nostalgic throwback, Reputation was a far more ambitious step forward.
Reputation is a largely euphoric but consistently determined statement from a star at yet another peak of her career. She's enjoying this view, but is still so obviously looking to climb even higher.
There was no better contemporary pop album that year. Bristling with killer hooks and endlessly fascinating lyrical flair, Taylor's reputation suffered no harm at all with this bold, progressive statement.