Taylor Swift surprised her fans and dropped a third single from her upcoming Lover album yesterday. She went on Instagram earlier in the day to tell them about “track 5” and the significance of the fifth tracks on her albums, that they are some of her most personal and vulnerable songs. And then, of course, because this is Taylor Swift, there are all the Easter eggs, or old eggs, that are being uncovered. You can read about that here.
When Taylor dropped “ME!”, I wrote at the time that the first songs off her albums are never the best songs on her albums, like “Shake It Off”. I don’t love “ME!” and while I prefer “You Need To Calm Down” to “ME!”, I’ve been waiting for the good sh-t. “The Archer” is the good sh-t, finally. I’m into the vibration in the background, that pulsing 80s vibe. And the beat that kicks in with the second verse. More 80s vibes there, building to an urgency not unlike "Out of the Woods”, also produced by Jack Antonoff. And it reminds me too of the Tegan and Sara sound. “The Archer” is a solid nighttime jam, during that witching hour, when you’re driving home and you still feel restless, don’t know where to go but you don’t want to be alone because if you’re alone maybe you’ll have to confront the mess you’ve been trying to avoid. It’s a song that’s perfect for August, especially the end of August. This is the August mood.
That’s what Taylor’s picking at here – not, for a change, at the haters, but at herself. Taylor makes headlines, most of the time, for pushing out, for telling you who’s she mad at and who she’s blaming. This time Taylor’s turning inward and, as often happens, her best work happens in that space. It’s why “Getaway Car” is my favourite song off reputation, the song where she seems to admit (at least in my reading of it) that she took advantage of someone (Tom Hiddleston) in a rebound situation.
It’s no surprise I turned you in
Cuz us traitors never win
In “The Archer” she starts singing that “THEY see right through me”. Then it becomes “can YOU see right through me”, before getting to the heart of it:
I see right through me
Can we stay here a little while, a little longer? I’m into it. I’m into it. I’m into Lover if there’s more of this and less of “ME!”