Taylor Alison Swift loves a big reveal. And what better place to drop news of an entirely unexpected upcoming album than on music’s biggest stage – The 66th Grammy Awards.
While collecting the award for Best Pop Vocal Album on February 4, she told fans: “OK, this is my 13th Grammy. Which is my lucky number… if I’ve never told you that.
“I know that the way the Recording Academy voted is a direct reflection of the passion from the fans.
“So I want to say thank you to the fans by telling you a secret that I have been keeping from you for the last two years. Which is that my brand new album comes out April 19, it’s called ‘The Tortured Poets Department’. I’m going to go and post the cover right now backstage.
Thank you. I love you.”
Given that Taylor Swift is in the middle of a world tour, fans are shooketh that she has had time to record a new album.
What’s the release date of ‘The Tortured Poets Department’
It will be released on April 19, 2024,. Fans think the date marks a significant moment in her break-up with actor, Joe Alwyn. It is two years to the day since Swift was photographed going for what was likely a post-break-up dinner with close friends, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. Later that evening, Reynolds unfollowed Alwyn on social media.
April 19th is also a significant date in the American Revolution – a war between the British and Americans and seeing as Joe Alwyn is British and Swift is American, it feels like perhaps another hint that this is a breakup album.
April 19 is also Poetry And The Creative Mind Day. How apt.
What do we know about The Tortured Poets Department?
Apart from the above – that the album will be released on April 19 and has been in the works for a couple of years – there are a few clues about the new LP. It seems that Swift is world-building for this new record. The only official tease we’ve had, via her Instagram, is the album artwork and a handwritten note that reads:
“And so I enter into evidence.
My tarnished coat of arms
My muses, acquired like bruises
My talismans and charms
of love bombs
My veins of pitch black ink.
All’s fair in love and poetry…
of The Tortured Poets Department”
The note is written on embossed paper, and filed in a folder with a divider that reads TTPD. Some pre-order formats of the record feature a brass bookmark/paperclip, which reads ‘The Manuscript’. Clearly Swift is taking her role as The Chairman seriously.
What does the album artwork look like for ‘The Tortured Poets Department’?
The artwork for the album features a black and white photograph by Beth Garrabrant who has shot with Taylor since ‘Folklore‘, photographing her for the cover of that record and the re-records of ‘Red’ and ‘1989’. In the image, Taylor is lying on a bed in a black sheer top and high-waisted black underwear.
Do we have the tracklist?
Yes. The day after the announcement, Swift shared the full tracklist via her Instagram story. It reads as follows:
- Fortnight (feat Post Malone)
- The Tortured Poets Department
- My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys
- Down Bad
- So Long, London
- But Daddy I Love Him
- Fresh Out The Slammer
- Florida!!! (Feat Florence & The Machine)
- Guilty As Sin?
- Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me?
- I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)
- I Can Do It With A Broken Heart
- The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived
- The Alchemy
- Clara Bow
- Bonus Track: The Manuscript
What will TTPD be about?
Fans are already speculating and unpacking what we know so far. Given Swift has been working on this record for two years, it’s unlikely to be about her current relationship with Travis Kelce. Fans are speculating that the focus may be her breakup with actor Joe Alwyn. Paul Mescal – Phoebe Bridgers‘ ex – revealed that himself, Joe Alwyn and Andrew Scott were in a (reportedly now dormant) Whatsapp group called Tortured Man Club, so it feels that perhaps it could be a bit of a nod/dig to that. Bridgers and Swift have collaborated in the past, with Bridgers being invited to support Swift on the Eras Tour, though she has not been listed as a collaborator on the recently-revealed tracklist.
There was also Swift’s seemingly brief relationship with The 1975’s Matty Healy. In December 2022, Matty, Phoebe Bridgers and Bo Burnham appeared in a photo of Phoebe and Matty kissing with the caption ‘Gay Poets Society’. Bridgers and Burnham were reported to be dating around this time, as were Swift and Healy. Nothing in Swiftland happens by accident so either Matty was already aware of the album’s title when he posted this and was making a nod to it, or Swift is riffing off this reference. If ever a man were to deliberately make his entire identity the tortured poet, it’s Healy. Fans are already speculating that the track ‘I Can Change Him (No Really I Can)’ may be about Healy. Or possibly ‘The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived’.
But who is the tortured poet? Is it Swift herself? By naming herself as The Chairman of the department, it certainly suggests so. I do prefer the theory that she is mocking the trope of the tortured male artist and their overblown sense of self-importance though. Perhaps she can do both.
There is also the direct reference to the Robin Williams movie, Dead Poets Society. The film was released in 1989 – the year Taylor was born – and is about a teacher at a boys’ boarding school who inspires his students through his teaching of poetry.
Again, this is leaning into the stereotype that creative men are always the tortured ones, with artists such as Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg and countless others, using “muses” for inspiration, over the years. Much in the same way that boygenius are named after the creative genius so often assigned male rock gods, Swift is reclaiming the narrative of the tortured poet for herself.
What about ‘Reputation (Taylor’s Version)’?
On February 4, Taylor’s website “went down”, showing an error that read “Error 321. Backend fetch failed. hneriergrd. DPT. 321. Varnish cache server.”
Initially, fans thought this was announcing ‘Rep TV’, with hneriergrd, being an anagram of “red herring” – something that throws you off course and diverts attention elsewhere. But instead, we got a new album announce. Presumably, this means ‘Rep TV’ is on hold? Although I wouldn’t put it past Swift to also have that in the works.
We will regularly update this page with news and clues on ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ as we have it.