Taylor Swift’s surprise double album ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ is daggers wrapped in a lullaby

Apr 19, 2024, 6:45 AM | Updated: 4:23 pm

Taylor Swift...

Taylor Swift at the 2024 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Mandatory Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

(CNN) — Take your seat because Taylor Swift’s “Tortured Poets Department” meeting has officially been called into session and, surprise, it’s a 31-song mega double album.


The Grammy-winner first released her highly anticipated 11th studio album on Friday, with the album appearing on Apple Music some time prior to its scheduled midnight release time. At 2 a.m EDT, Swift then surprise-released an additional 15-song album titled “TTPD: The Anthology.”

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The initial 16-track “Tortured Poets Department” album serves overall as a relaxed and mellow listen on the surface, but if you’re paying attention to the lyrics – as most very thorough Swifties do – you’ll discover a chaotic and complicated stream of consciousness where Swift works through waves of heartbreak, longing, anger and self-reflection.

An example among many comes on the album’s 12th track “loml” – which is internet-speak for “love of my life” – in which Swift sings, “I wish I could un-recall how we almost had it all.” After singing the words “love of my life,” at the very end of the song, she concludes, “You’re the loss of my life.”

To mark the occasion of the album drop, Swift wrote that the album is “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” on her verified Instagram page Friday.

“This period of the author’s life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up. There is nothing to avenge, no scores to settle once wounds have healed. And upon further reflection, a good number of them turned out to be self-inflicted,” she wrote. “This writer is of the firm belief that our tears become holy in the form of ink on a page. Once we have spoken our saddest story, we can be free of it. And then all that’s left behind is the tortured poetry.”

The songs on which Swift chose to feature collaborators are some of the album’s highlights. The album’s eighth track “Florida!!!” with Florence + the Machine is a gorgeous match of two unique voices blending together, with Florence Welch’s signature plaintive singing style complementing Swift’s vocal range on the melodic track.

“Fortnight,” the album’s lead single featuring Post Malone, is a dynamic first track, perhaps the album’s catchiest. “I love you it’s ruining my life,” Swift sings reflectively, with Post Malone’s soft vocals echoing hers.

The music video for “Fortnight” will be released at 8 p.m. EDT Friday, according to Swift, who wrote on her Instagram page on Thursday that she’s been “such a huge fan” of Post Malone “because of the writer he is, his musical experimentation and those melodies he creates that just stick in your head forever.”

Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, two of Swift’s frequent songwriting and producing collaborators, are credited as co-writers on a number of songs throughout the album, with Swift being credited as the sole writer on two – “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” and “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”

The “Anthology” album released later on Friday includes the previously announced exclusive vinyl variant bonus tracks “The Black Dog,” “The Albatross,” “The Bolter” and “The Manuscript” along with numerous other new songs.

“The Tortured Poets Department” comes amid Swift’s record-breaking “Eras Tour” and Grammy wins earlier this year, and is on track to more than exceed sales and streaming expectations.

“This is probably the most anticipated album ever that I’ve seen in my career,” Tom Poleman, the chief programming officer & president for iHeartRadio, told CNN in a recent interview. “It’s not just a music event, it’s a pop culture event that I think that everybody in America will be talking about and celebrating together.”

According to Spotify, the album on Thursday became the most pre-saved album in the music streaming platform’s history.

At Spotify’s library pop-up activation event at the Grove in Los Angeles on Thursday, one self-avowed Swiftie told CNN, “I have a feeling that she’s gonna give us everything on this album and I’m really looking forward to it. I will say, I feel like she’s kind of held back a couple of years, so I’m ready for this album for her to tell her whole truth.”

In February, Swift announced the album at the Grammys, while accepting the award for best pop vocal album for 2022’s “Midnights.”

“It was really a lifeline for me,” Swift said of “Tortured Poets” during a February concert in Melbourne, according to video footage posted to social media.

“Just the things I was going through, the things I was writing about,” she said, “it kind of reminded me why songwriting is something that actually gets me through my life.”

CNN’s Elizabeth Wagmeister contributed to this story.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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Taylor Swift’s surprise double album ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ is daggers wrapped in a lullaby