It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Taylor Swift’s newest single is a strikingly well-constructed slice of pop storytelling. After two albums packed with fleshy, deeply personal and incredibly deft songwriting, you’d have to be in denial to expect anything less.
Swift is her generation’s finest lyrical communicator, her greatest strength her ability to build compelling narratives that progressively escalate conflict while reaching for some inevitable resolution. She plunges us into the center of a story, exposes some relatable conflict and then allows the momentum of the song’s plot to drive us forward, along the way introducing a cast of characters that are vibrant and endowed with very palpable desires, fears and problems.
The result is a body of work that is as visual as it is auditory. You don’t just listen to a Taylor Swift song, you watch it unfold like a teleplay. “Mine” is perhaps her finest example of that yet, staged in exquisite detail and so well-drawn that filming a music video for it almost seems redundant.
Redundancy is a problem that weighs down “Mine.” Now on the precipice of the release of her third studio album, titled Speak Now, Swift has delivered a lead single that sounds like a rerun, not a season opener.
From a lyrical standpoint, Swift does everything right—her unique narrative voice is present and accounted for, plump with the crisp, direct language she’s so talented at weaving into her songs.
It’s just that while her technical execution is exemplary, the effect of that execution is dulled from overexposure. We’ve seen this show so many times that we already know the dialogue and the characters’ next moves.
And we already know how the story is going to end.
What’s most tiresome about “Mine,” however, is the sound. This track is zero degrees removed from the rest of the up-tempo material in her catalog, the only exception to that statement being that producer Nathan Chapman has finally stripped out even the slightest hint of country music sensibility. This is a stale, stiff record that shows absolutely no forward artistic vision. It hungers for fresh ingredients, but ends up sounding creatively starved.
“Mine” is a good song, but it’s so expected—so typically Taylor—that it already feels passé.
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