UMG (on behalf of TS/Republic) (label)
23 July 2019 (released)
24 July 2019
Taylor Swift returns with one of her most inwardly critical songs yet, courtesy of ‘The Archer’.
The release of the seventh studio album now just under a month away, the promotion cycle for Lover is in full swing. ‘Me’ offered carefree fun, the anthemic ‘You Need to Calm Down’ stood against hate, and now new offering ‘The Archer’ turns the spotlight on its artist.
Taylor Swift has long had her actions, questioned, critiqued, and challenged. From boyfriends to feuds the court of public opinion has constantly been in session.
With that kind of scrutiny, a person is bound to look cynically at themselves from time to time.
The song paints Swift as her own harshest critic. In one self-doubting moment the 29-year-old sings:
“ I cut off my nose just to spite my face, then hate my reflection for years and years”.
This pained introspection continues as Swift later adds:
“Cause they see right through me, they see right through me, they see right through, can you see right through me?”.
The storyteller has found her strong and stable relationship but seems afraid that she could be its undoing.
Thematically, Swift has cast herself as the villain of the story, but not in the amusingly over-the-top way of ‘Blank Space’ or ‘I Did Something Bad’. Instead, it’s a much more earnest and vulnerable approach from the 10 times Grammy winner. If long time Swifties cast their minds towards Speak Now’s ‘Back to December’ then they would be in the right avenue.
Although the gossip press has certainly given the songwriter her fair share of grief, she has shown the ability to use the constant coverage to her advantage. Previous album reputation played with aspects of the media saturated persona while making several references to some very well-publicized events.
‘The Archer’ continues in a similar vein mentioning “all of my enemies started out friends..”. This approach helps to ground the song in Swift’s personal story. Fans have seen the myriad of coverage and will have no problem working out what their favourite is alluding to.
During the Instagram launch of the album’s track five the songstress mentioned that those buying the deluxe versions of the new project would receive samples of her diaries. Fittingly, the synth laden song feels like the overly harsh Self evaluation you might find in a personal journal.
Despite, being a study of the individual, proceedings maintain that relateability. While we can’t all be world-famous musicians mingling with the best and the brightest, who hasn’t at some point turned the lens inward and sceptically questioned if they're good enough, worthy enough?
For those listeners hearing a distinct 1989 vibe they won’t be surprised to learn that Jack Antonoff once again picks up a producer credit. The man who helped to bring you ‘Out Of the Woods’ has once again assisted in the creation of a synth heavy tune.
The backing track hums underneath its vocalist’s downbeat musings, as little heartbeats pulse.
Overall, ‘The Archer’ showcases Taylor Swift’s deft lyrical touch to not only take the listener on a personal journey, but also to maintain that sense of accessibility. A promising sign for the LP to come.