Taylor Swift – “Lover”
By Kate Sagara
The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause she’s back and ready to yet again push the boundaries of what’s musically, vocally, and lyrically possible.
You probably heard that country-pop queen Taylor Swift released her seventh album, “Lover,” on Aug. 23. The album is composed of 18 songs and further proves her ability to never stop evolving and growing. “Lover” is full of emotions and truly takes you on an emotional journey, from the sassy “I Forgot That You Existed,” to the pure joy exhibited in “Paper Rings” and “It’s Nice to Have a Friend,” to the raw, painful, and uncertain “Soon You’ll Get Better,” in which Swift explores her emotions surrounding her mother’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. “Lover” also tackles social issues — Swift speaks out against sexism in “The Man” and “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” and homophobia in “You Need to Calm Down.” She feels deeply and passionately and perfectly encapsulates all that emotion into this album. Her music has more hidden meanings, symbolism, imagery, and pathos than anything I’ve ever read in English class. Shakespeare could never.
Regardless of how you feel about Taylor Swift as a person, it is almost certain that everyone will be able to find at least one song on “Lover” they will enjoy.
The Lumineers – “III”
By Kate Sagara
The Lumineers released a concept album titled “III” on Sept. 13. The title not only represents the fact that this is their third album, but that “III,” which is divided into three acts, tells the story of three generations of a family battling addiction.
It has been made evident through other albums and songs that The Lumineers like to tell stories through their music. However, this album is a full-length narrative of a family, struggling with addiction through three generations. Throughout its three acts, “III” ranges from upbeat songs like “Life in the City” and “Gloria” to heart-wrenching songs such as “Salt And The Sea” and “Donna.” Each song can stand alone; they are enjoyable and interesting even when removed from their larger narrative. But, together, they create a beautiful and heartbreaking tale. “III” will take you on a journey that makes you want to ultimately see each character’s success — but that’s never guaranteed. This album shows the uncertainty and fear in addiction, mental illness, and generational trauma.
Overall, it is a calming and thoughtful album. The Lumineers have proven yet again that they are absolute masters of not only music, but storytelling as well.
Lana Del Rey – “Norman F*cking Rockwell!”
By Lily Froio
Lana Del Rey’s newest full-length album is here, much to the delight of fans everywhere. “Norman F*cking Rockwell!” is one of Del Rey’s most cohesive albums in theme and mood. Listeners are transported to Del Ray’s world, a place where you can lay on the beach all day and come to terms with all the feelings you haven’t dealt with since her last album came out in 2017.
“Norman F*cking Rockwell!” displays the growth of Del Rey’s work, and of her as a person. Shedding the motifs of melancholy over past relationships and life experiences in her early albums, Del Rey expands on themes of emotional growth and change that she first explored in her last album, “Lust for Life.” With a more nuanced approach through the album’s Americana California theme, “Norman F*cking Rockwell” furthers Del Rey’s commitment to curating her own happiness within the state of the world and her relationships.
Del Rey finds a way to convey how many of us feel in our lives, as so many of us are also trying to find a way to be happy despite all the chaos around us. Del Rey’s music validates listeners through lyrical poetry, which are especially strong on the songs “The Greatest,” “Cinnamon Girl,” and “Hope is a Dangerous Thing.” This album gives realistic optimism for people who are trying to get, in the words of Del Rey, “out of the black and into the blue.” “Norman F*cking Rockwell” shows that it is okay to be sad, but that growth and change are possible.
Charli XCX – “Charli”
By Lily Froio
This is definitely not the same Charli XCX who sang the pop hits of the summer of 2014, like “Boom Clap.” In her latest, self-titled album, Charli XCX has really expanded on the style of futuristic pop that she experimented with on “Pop 2” and her “Vroom Vroom” EP. “Charli” sounds like pop music of the future, with countless inorganic sounds and electronic beats on songs, all shaped in a way that is very distinct to Charli’s style. The lyrics are natural and relatable to everyone who has experienced heartbreak and regrets, but who also love to forget it all and just party.
Charli XCX has a lot of talented friends, with many popular artists, such as Lizzo, Troye Sivan, Cupcakke, and Kim Petras featured on this album. These features make Charli XCX a great artist to listen to if you want to find other talented musicians — many of whom also have a strong LGBTQ+ fanbase, like Charli does.
“Charli” is a glimpse into the future, in an era where it feels like our futures are very uncertain. But, when you really think about it, “it’s Charli, baby!”
You can listen to Charli XCX’s album on Spotify or Apple Music, and check out her tour dates.