Taylor Swift unveils ‘The Tortured Poets Department’: a double album dive into heartache and triumph


Taylor Swift’s hotly anticipated “The Tortured Poets Department” is here along with a surprise second album — 31 tracks released Friday in which the megawatt star purges her inner turmoil while scorching former lovers.

The first album was released as scheduled at midnight (0400 GMT) but two hours later, an additional 15 tracks appeared — giving legions of Swifties plenty to chew on.

By Friday evening, Spotify declared the album its most-streamed in a single day, with Swift also becoming the most-streamed artist in a single day.

The 34-year-old billionaire is one of music’s most shrewd users of social media, employing her massive online presence as well as her songwriting to create a sense of intimacy with fans through so-called “Easter eggs” and hidden messages.

“I’d written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you, so here’s the second installment of TTPD: The Anthology. 15 extra songs. And now the story isn’t mine anymore… it’s all yours,” she posted in revealing the extra music.

Swift’s album comes on the heels of a remarkably successful and busy year for the artist, whose “Midnights” won her a record-setting fourth Album of the Year Grammy.

She put on the first tour to break the $1 billion mark and is on track to make a second billion by the time it’s over.

Swift also released two re-recordings of her earlier albums to resounding success, and broke box office records with an Eras Tour film.

But she also ended a six-year relationship with the British actor Joe Alwyn, after which she was linked to — and dramatically de-linked from — front man Matty Healy of the 1975.

Now she’s dating NFL star Travis Kelce, whose Kansas City Chiefs just won the Super Bowl.

And all of the drama is immortalized in song.

– ‘Sensational and sorrowful’ –
When she announced “TTPD,” Swift said it would be “an anthology of new works that reflect events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time — one that was both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure.”

“This period of the author’s life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up.”

Tying together the roots of 2020’s “Folklore” with the heavier synths of her more pop-oriented work, Swift spills the tea on both Alwyn and Healy.

“So Long, London” offers a painful postscript to the breezy “London Boy” off her 2019 album “Lover.”

“I stopped trying to make him laugh / Stopped trying to drill the safe,” she sings in the former track, bidding farewell to her one-time home with Alwyn.

Alwyn and fellow actor Paul Mescal revealed in 2022 that they had a group chat entitled “The Tortured Man Club,” and some think the album title refers to that.

While her cuts against Healy are sharp — “And I don’t even want you back / I just want to know / If rusting my sparkling summer was the goal,” she sings on “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” — she portrays herself as a similarly messy character.

For the LA Times pop music critic, Swift’s confessional style is raw and refreshing.

“In a time of stan culture run amok, it’s thrilling to hear a superstar address her followers this way,” the critic wrote in a review.

“Swift isn’t seeking betterment in these songs about emotional trauma and its aftermath; if anything, she’s taking a perverse satisfaction in her unwillingness to learn someone else’s lessons.”

Florence + The Machine makes a cameo on the album, as does Post Malone on the opening single “Fortnight” — complete with forthcoming video.

She also addresses her new highly publicized relationship with Kelce.

In “The Alchemy,” she describes the dopamine rush of new love, saying “Honestly, who are we to fight the alchemy?”

“He just comes runnin’ over to me.”

– ‘Tortured poetry’ –
Swift began writing songs professionally as a teenager, signing with Nashville’s Big Machine Records as a country artist.

After a highly publicized dispute with Big Machine executives regarding ownership of her first six albums, she made the risky decision to re-record those albums to own their rights.

It worked, delighting ardent fans, bringing new Swifties into the fold, and earning her renewed respect within the industry.

With “The Tortured Poets Department,” she stands to make waves once more, although she’ll face stiff competition next awards season from the likes of Beyonce, who dropped her electric “Cowboy Carter” on March 29, and Billie Eilish, whose upcoming album is due May 17.

“Tortured Poets” is Swift’s ninth LP in five years — five original studio albums and four re-records — and with it, she will almost certainly, like all the others, strike chart-topping gold.

“Once we have spoken our saddest story, we can be free of it,” she wrote Friday on Instagram. “And then all that’s left behind is the tortured poetry.”