Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Taylor Swift: Lover [Republic, 2019]
It's not just that Swift knows even more about having lovers, the concept here, than she does about being a star, the concept of Reputation. It's that for female pop fans with their own lives, not just unfortunates ensnared by the vicarious vagaries of celebrity culture, lover is a more relatable concept than star. A romantic history as footloose as Swift's comes easier to a gal with unlimited access to desirable men. But even so there are millions of women who manage serial relationships, and this one's for them. Swift has earned the right to assemble "a love letter to love itself" more ways than anyone can count, including a romance with a British actor I wouldn't know from Joe Jonas that is now well into its record-breaking third year. I wish the tunecraft here retained the lightness of the mean yet hopeful "I Forgot That You Existed," an opener that seems to promise a keyb-based pure pop of Motownish allure that does not in fact ensue. I also wish I hadn't learned that the romantic pied-a-terre of "Cornelia Street" is actually a mansion with a pool. But Swift's formidable skill set has seldom served more likable or admirable ends. A-