Over her first three albums, Taylor Swift has made country pop that moved closer and closer to the latter genre. But earlier this year she recorded a song for The Hunger Games Soundtrack with The Civil Wars. Safe and Sound was dark and moody and the second best song in her career (I still contend that Our Song is the second finest pop song written over the past decade). The song really got me excited for her next album as I was hoping Safe and Sound was the direction she was heading in her career. Then she released We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, a song so sugary it makes Call Me Maybe sound like Radiohead in comparison. Ugg.
The song was the latest ear candy from the teen pop svengali Max Martin who produced three songs on Red. The other notable song Martin contributed to is the “dub-step” I Knew You Were Trouble that really does not drop the bass like the DJ’s that make the subgenre famous and just comes off across a watered down version of dub-step. It really is just a novelty for Swift because is you listen to the acoustic version of the song it is much better. The other Martin enhance song is the forgettable 22 where Swift makes fun of hipsters, echoing her slam of indie records during We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.
Aside from Max Martin, Taylor brings in a few more collaborators for the new album. Dan Wilson, who co-wrote Someone Like You, co-wrote Treacherous with Swift but just does not hit the heights of the Adele monster hit or even his work on the last Dixie Chicks record. The Last Time features Gary Lightbody and comes across more like a Snow Patrol castoff than a Taylor Swift song. She alaso duets with Ed Sheeran on Everything Has Changed and the acoustic ballad sound more like something you would find on his album. Of court that may be the point of these duets because Safe and Sound sounded much more like a song by The Civil Wars.
But Red is at its best when Swift goes back to writing by herself. The best song on the album is actually stuck at the end. Begin Again is a sweet ballad where Swift is ready to move on with a James Taylor fan. As the second single it is a great yin to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’s yang. Really Swift should stick to writing by herself or work just with The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett for now on.
Song to Download – Begin Again
Red gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.