Taylor Swift has been a staple of pop music since she released Red in 2012. However, her newest album, Evermore, sees the singer-songwriter moving away from the loud and catchy songs of her mid 2010’s era and into the realm of soulful bedroom pop. The album artfully weaves together themes of love, loss, and nostalgia. Unfortunately, the titular song fails to meet its high expectations.
Evermore has a promising start. The gentle piano adds depth and warmth to Swift’s wistful voice, and the first part of the piece evokes the atmosphere of a quiet evening of contemplation and harmony. As she sings of feeling lost and “unmoored,” the melancholic mood of the ballad takes hold.
However, this idyllic facade soon gives way to endless repetition. The same ten second piano theme is reiterated for nearly two minutes and thirty seconds, with only minor embellishments added to the accompaniment as the song progresses. One expects a dramatic chorus or some sort of pinnacle to the melody within these long two and a half minutes; nevertheless, Swift simply continues to translate her emotions into the same limited melody, and the chorus is disappointingly drab, to say the least.
When the piece finally does reach its pinnacle, it stumbles. The transition into the bridge is awkward and held out for too long. It almost feels as if Swift attempted to stitch two separate songs together because the initial draft of Evermore was not exciting enough. Not only does the tempo and mood change abruptly — Bon Iver’s raspy voice is distracting and becomes confusing when Swift joins in with him.
The uncomfortable tension within the bridge is resolved as Swift resumes singing with the piano and the song returns to its original tempo and mood. However, the rest of the ballad is another long stretch of the same few piano chords and the exact same melody (and even some of the same words!) from the beginning.
Swift ends her melody on a hopeful note, asserting that her loss and “pain wouldn’t be for evermore.” The final few notes of the accompaniment also end unresolved, suggesting change and possibility. Nonetheless, this does not make up for the tedious musical composition and awkward transitions throughout. The uneven ballad certainly won’t be on my playlist evermore..