Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 24
  2. Negative: 1 out of 24
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  1. Apr 18, 2024
    Stunning. .... Tortured Poets has the intimate sound of Folklore and Evermore, but with a coating of Midnights synth-pop gloss.
  2. 100
    The whole album is a terrific reminder of the intense, personal connection Swift can conjure in song.
  3. Apr 19, 2024
    “The Tortured Poets Department” feels like it comes the closest of any of her 11 original albums to just drilling a tube directly into her brain and letting listeners mainline what comes out. If you value this confessional quality most of all, she’s still peaking: As a culmination of her particular genius for marrying cleverness with catharsis, “Tortured” kind of feels like the Taylor Swift-est Taylor Swift record ever.
  4. Apr 22, 2024
    In Swift’s capable hands, even the deepest moments of despair are transmuted into songs which resonate with emotion and genuine insight.
  5. Apr 25, 2024
    These songs are calculated, complete, and the most experimental and ambitious of Swift’s work to date.
  6. Apr 23, 2024
    This is not the perfect record with a lot of unevenness, but they found the right approach which means that to master it and finally reach a perfect match, they need to do another one with the same settings.
  7. Apr 22, 2024
    Ultimately, this may be Swift’s most Swiftian album: the unhappiness profound, the details generous, the lessons absorbed.
  8. Apr 19, 2024
    Towards the end of the album, tracks threaten to meld into each other, making for one big visceral haze of love-lamenting. But beat seekers should find their bag on dynamic tracks like ‘Florida!!!’, a thumping, bewitching collaboration with Florence + The Machine, ‘Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?,’ and triumphantly-erupting, more optimistic ‘I Can Do It With A Broken Heart.’
  9. 80
    It's less playful than before but feels like an evolution rather than an adjustment. There's a more textural feel than before, edging closer to the muted space of Phoebe Bridgers' Punisher, or Antonoff's work with Lana Del Rey, and it suits Swift well as this point in her career.
  10. Apr 18, 2024
    The LP turns out to be something of a heel turn; it’s got a proudly villainous energy as Swift embraces her messiest and most chaotic tendencies. .... All this lore — it’s a lot. Yet “The Tortured Poets Department” also showcases Swift’s gifts as a songwriter, musician and producer. Her melodies are sticky and her arrangements grabby; working in the studio with Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, she’s honed an electro-acoustic style that’s instantly identifiable.
  11. Apr 18, 2024
    In terms of emotional insight and sheer singer-songwriter genius, it is not in the league of such heartbreak classics as Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Joni Mitchell's Blue, but at least it reaches for such heights.
  12. Apr 18, 2024
    If you wanted to pick holes, The Tortured Poets Department is a shade too long.
  13. Apr 22, 2024
    The Tortured Poets Department plays out as a pop album that sounds fine enough but sure is long-winded.
  14. Apr 19, 2024
    The songs themselves range from the good (the surprisingly energetic I Can Do It With A Broken Heart, throwback ballad But Daddy I Love Him, the extra textures of the Florence + The Machine duet, Florida!!!) to the somewhat samey but still enjoyable (So Long, London; the title track; Fresh Out the Slammer), to the unnecessary retreads (Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?, The Alchemy), to the truly rotten (Down Bad – which can’t manage to disguise its hollowness with truly beautiful textures, and I Can Fix Him).
  15. Apr 23, 2024
    Throughout, she marches from truly great lyricism that is on par with the very best of her contemporary idols and peers to unfiltered writing that leads to more ridicule on TikTok than engagement with the listener. Musically, the project is also split between deeply engaging material that is her best yet, while the main album at times just seems too homogenous for its own good in locked in mid-tempo and synth-pop.
  16. Apr 22, 2024
    Tortured Poets’ extended Anthology edition runs over two hours, and even in the abridged version, its sense of sprawl creeps down to the song level, where Swift’s writing is, at best, playfully unbridled and, at worst, conspicuously wanting for an editor.
  17. Apr 29, 2024
    She’s made some phenomenal music in her career and a handful of songs on The Tortured Poets Department are welcome additions to her canon. These are sadly outnumbered by bland filler and compromised by an overwhelming sense of stasis.
  18. Apr 25, 2024
    While the feelings here are melodramatic and overexpressed, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness, this also has some of Swift’s best work, and much of the best pop music ever made.
  19. Apr 19, 2024
    At times, the album is a return to form. Its first two songs are potent reminders of how viscerally Swift can summon the flushed delirium of a doomed romance. .... Great poets know how to condense, or at least how to edit. The sharpest moments of “The Tortured Poet’s Department” would be even more piercing in the absence of excess, but instead the clutter lingers, while Swift holds an unlit match.
  20. 60
    Ultimately this record lacks the genuinely interesting shifts that have punctuated Swift’s career so far, from the lyrical excellence on her superior breakup album ‘Red’ to ‘1989’’s pivot to high-octane pop.
  21. Apr 22, 2024
    The two halves of the project couldn’t be more at odds with one another, making it easy to wonder why the decision to drop them not quite all together, but together for all intents and purposes nonetheless, was made. There’s a vivid line of demarcation between the narrative of chaotic implosion and the gentle piecing back together that happens later.
  22. Apr 22, 2024
    The Tortured Poets Department is too pulseless to inspire anything at all – and so when Swift does lay down the occasional track with colour in her cheeks, the results tend to tower over the rest of the album regardless of any visible issues they bear. Practically every one of the its greatest highlights is a glaring case-in-point for one or another of its recurrent flaws, yet transcends them through sheer pep and conviction.
  23. Apr 22, 2024
    Like the colourless photo of a near-anonymous Swift that adorns the album cover, it casts an artful pose but doesn't have the guts to look the listener in the eye.
  24. Apr 19, 2024
    What’s hollow about The Tortured Poets Department is that the real torture is just how unlivable these songs really are.

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