Taylor Swift Has Quality-Control Issues

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Okay album. Taylor Swift is either the great redeemer of English-language arts and letters in the 21st century, according to her followers, or a total cornball foisted upon the public by the evil record industry, according to her detractors. 

She is a gifted artist who has revitalized popular music as a storytelling medium, but she has always had quality-control concerns. 

The Tortured Poets Department, her 11th studio album, may change how we view her. Many of the album's songs are dull, yet few are charming and magical. 

This record is too long and inconsistent to be savvy, and it doesn't feel like a committee of wealthy interests made it.  

(She surprise-released 15 more songs today, adding to the 16 songs in the main album.) She's processing a strange life chapter. 

That chapter began either before she started dating Joe Alwyn in 2016 or early last year, when they broke up. 

Though Swift's songs are hard to separate fact from imagination, Tortured Poets' gloomy visual style and inside-joke title—Alwyn was in a group chat called “Tortured Man Club”—led many to presume the album would be about her longest relationship's dark side. 

The album seems to focus on a figure whose tattoos, suit-and-tie attire, and shady reputation resemble The 1975's Matty Healy. 

Healy had been a footnote until today. After the Alwyn breakup, she and he apparently rekindled their romance after hanging out in 2014. Healy apologized for making racial jokes about Ice Spice and moved on to Travis Kelce after a brief period of awkward press.  

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