Though her musical style has evolved quite a bit over time, one thing remains true of all of Taylor Swift's albums: They're full of lyrical gems.
The singer-songwriter's latest, Folklore, is no exception, with many critics heralding her new work as some of her finest. Now that Swift's eighth studio album has been out in the world for a number of days and we've had time to sit with it, EW staff picked out their favorite lines from the record, complete with an explainer.
Lyric: “Cold was the steel of my ax to grind for the boys who broke my heart/Now I send their babies presents" from "Invisible String"
Why we love it: Taylor’s lyrics alternate between razor-sharp retorts and heartrending ennui. This line, from the puckish “Invisible String,” is a delightful blend of both, as Swift notes her tendency to drag exes through the mud before stopping (or pausing?) to tend to innocent bystanders. Hey, no need to blame the children for their father’s sins. — Alex Suskind
Lyric: "I had a marvelous time ruining everything" from "The Last Great American Dynasty"
Why we love it: It’s so feminist and delicious and I love it! — Maureen Lee Lenker
Lyric: “And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake?” from "My Tears Ricochet"
Why we love it: This has been ringing in my head for the last few days. It’s obviously sad and melancholy, but it also has a little bit of playful bite to it, which is peak Taylor. It sounds like a Fall Out Boy song title, in the best way. — Devan Coggan
Lyric: “I think I've seen this film before/So I'm leavin' out the side door” from "Exile"
Why we love it: There’s a movie motif running throughout the album, with Swift comparing her life to a film at multiple points. For me, this is the most potent example, especially once she and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon sing it together. — Chancellor Agard
Lyric: “Remember when I pulled up and said 'Get in the car'/And then canceled my plans just in case you'd call?/Back when I was livin' for the hope of it all, for the hope of it all/'Meet me behind the mall'" from "August"
Why we love it: “Meet me behind the mall” is such a fun, youthful refrain. Plus, who doesn’t relate to the line “back when I was livin' for the hope of it all” during these unprecedented times. — Chancellor Agard
Lyric: "August slipped away into a moment in time/'Cause it was never mine" from "August"
Why we love it: Taylor hits at the core of our collective loneliness with Folklore, and "August," quite possibly the best song off the album, puts us in a fantasy where a fling could have been (and would have been) something more permanent; a love that keeps us warm and cozy. Instead, just like many relationships that were blooming before the current pandemic, we're left to wonder about the possibilities. Sure, August could have been ours, or maybe it was never meant to be? — Omar Sanchez
Lyric: "The wedding was charming, if a little gauche/There's only so far new money goes" from “The Last Great American Dynasty”
Why we love it: “Gauche” is such a good word. Rhyming it with “goes” is definitely the cabin fever talking, but I support it! — Darren Franich
Lyric: "We were something, don't you think so?/Rosé flowing with your chosen family/And it would've been sweet/If it could've been me/In my defense, I have none/For digging up the grave another time/But it would've been fun/If you would've been the one” from “The 1”
Why we love it: Taylor Swift’s greatest gift as a lyricist, in my humble opinion, is her ability to set scenes like this — simple in structure, but an entire mood in meaning. Who hasn’t felt nostalgic about a love that got away? When you know it’s over, but still can’t stop yourself from thinking about that person? It’s like scrolling through an ex’s Instagram stories: Harmless in theory, but keeps you thinking about that relationship, for better and worse. — Jessica Derschowitz
Lyric: "They told me all of my cages were mental/So I got wasted like all my potential/And my words shoot to kill when I'm mad/I have a lot of regrets about that" from "This Is Me Trying"
Why we love it: Folklore largely seems to get away from the autobiographical nature of her previous seven albums, but "This Is Me Trying" feels like one of the exceptions. It seems quarantine has turned Swift's gaze rather inward with this track, where she croons about regrets and failure and feeling isolated. She knows not what to say, but just wants her unnamed subject to know she's trying. If that's not major quarantine mood, then I don't know what is. And if there's a more biting lyric than "So I got wasted like all my potential," then I don't know it. — Lauren Huff
Lyric: “I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace/And so the battleships will sink beneath the waves” from "My Tears Ricochet"
Why we love it: This lyric is a classic example of Taylor Swift’s brutal honesty. She admits her shortcomings and elegantly describes what she’s learned, all while acknowledging she may have lacked just that in the moment she’s reflecting about. Then she ends the lyric with powerful imagery of battleships sinking into the vastness of an ocean, describing the dramatic way it feels to make one wrong move and lose something huge. — Carolyn Cutrone