Taylor Swift’s most recent releases have been, well, uninspiring to say the least. I wasn’t a fan of Reputation nor am I interested in her two most recent singles, “ME!” and “You Need To Calm Down”. Swift was an artist that I looked up to for her vulnerability and storytelling, albeit the victim playing at times but I just couldn’t shake this unauthentic feeling I got from listening to “Look What You Made Me Do” or “Delicate”. She sounded so bored on both records, with hushed vocals and limited instrumentation. Besides being quite literal and hard to relate to, Swift, to me, had lost everything that I once adored about her. Along came her oversaturated and repetitive singles from her new record Lover and I can officially say I have fallen off the bandwagon. However, there is one saving grace and that is “The Archer”, track number 5 off of Swifts upcoming new album.
This song was initially a surprise for me as I came across it on YouTube while I was looking for something else. At first I figured it was another single but as it turns out, it’s not a single and nor will it be getting a music video. My first reaction was that I didn’t even want to hear this song considering how much I haven’t liked the other ones; I’m disappointed to say my first impressions of Lover have not been good. But, I figured I would hear it eventually and if I’ve already wasted years of my life on people who don’t matter, it’s not the worst thing to waste three minutes of my day listening to a song I don’t like. Funny this is, though, that I actually did like it. And I liked it a lot. I was very caught off guard, in both the lyrical and musical departments.
Musically, this track doesn’t contain much substance as it’s mostly a soft synth background with a light beat added into it eventually. There’s no real buildup that I anxiously waited for nor is there any heavy bass or breakdown. There are also points throughout the song, such as after the first chorus and before the second verse, where the song sounds hasty and poorly assembled. Besides that, however, the musical vibe of the song is rather nice and calming, which creates quite a contrast when the lyrics come in. The opening lines “Combat / I’m ready for combat / I say I don’t want that / But maybe I do” are a little surprising considering Swift’s lack of majorly introspective lyrics. If we’re being real, as much as I love her work, it’s hard to deny that most of her lyrics are centered around the wrongdoings of others. So hearing her say “I never grew up / It’s getting so old” in the pre chorus was the last thing I ever expected because it’s a line that I have read and heard about Taylor Swift on numerous occasions. It’s different for her to acknowledge her faults and let us see a different kind of turmoil she might be going through. It gets better though, when in the second verse Swift admits that she “Cut off her nose just to spite my face / Then I hate my reflection for years and years”. Essentially, she’s admitting that she hurt herself by trying to hurt others which is a bold thing to admit to such a large audience but it’s also something that’s been in plenty of people’s minds for the past three years or so (the Calvin Harris drama is the first thing that came to mind upon hearing this line). After these few parts, the bridge slowly starts to fade with Swift repeating that “They see right through me” and “I see right through me”, seemingly coming to terms with the fact that so many people can see past these barriers that she’s tried to build up. And then comes in my favorite part of the song, “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men / Couldn’t put me together again”. That was the moment where I felt like the old Taylor had some back to the phone and that she wasn’t dead after all. All of that leading up to this one moment in this song reminded me off all the reasons why I loved Taylor in the first place; the honesty and humanness of her music made me feel less alone and reminded me that I have my worth even when I didn’t think I deserved it. This one ends off with Swift repeating “But who could say?” and then switching over to “You could stay” which helps emphasize the positives of what the song is trying to say.
Listening to this the first time around literally brought tears to my eyes and even after the five hundredth listen it still continues to make me slightly emotional. “The Archer” exemplifies the beauty and elegance that Taylor Swift is capable of and although I don’t believe that every part of the song is perfect, it still remains one of her most impressive modern day tracks. Letting go of hard feelings while coming to terms with your own faults is a huge growing experience which is perfectly encompassed in this three and a half minute track. I can’t say I’m going to take a listen to Lover a whole when it’s released but I can say for certain that “The Archer” will remain in my library of top Taylor Swift songs.