Review Summary: My mythology is missing, guys!
My immediate reactions to Taylor Swift's newest album, "Red", were confusion: is this Taylor Swift? This sounds like indie rock, like Foster the People in slow motion, like Coldplay, like Snow Patrol (indeed, Snow Patrol's main singer makes a shocking entrance as the opening singer on "The Last Time", weaving his voice into Swift's masterfully).
All of which gets to the heart of my problem with the album: what distinguished Taylor Swift as a singer-songwriter is pretty absent on this album. First of all, the country tropes blended into her pop tunes are eschewed in favor of more stereotypical radio-rock-ready sounds. The acoustic guitars are long gone, giving way to heavy-handed production and thunderous guitar and piano powerchords. Also missing are the fantastical, whisk-you-away lyrical narratives that made teenage life a la Swift seem so appealing and so dramatic simultaneously. The songs are now firmly entrenched in realistic melodrama, not daring to break from "real relationship problems" or, at the very least, craft depth-creating metaphors around them.
In all, what Red is is a good-enough album for the Swift fans and newbies alike: it'll get rave reviews from those that love her for her, and it'll please newcomers that hear its singles when trying to distract themselves from work with Pandora. Swift's attempts to expand from her niche have hurt what made her so interesting as an artist, though, and because of that, those of us with a broader taste in listening material are left with little worth remembering once the record stops spinning.