‘Folklore’ is Taylor Swift’s best album by far, according to critics

As much as Taylor Swift has written about her detractors on songs like “Shake it Off,” “Mean” and “Look What You Made Me Do,” critics have always admired her work, with her albums usually hovering in the 70s on MetaCritic. But that’s nothing compared to “Folklore.” She released the album with only a few hours of prior notice on Friday, July 24, and it’s no surprise that her fans love it, but music journalists think it’s the best of her career too.

As of this writing “Folklore” has a MetaCritic score of 89 based on 20 reviews counted thus far: 19 positive, one somewhat mixed and none outright negative. That’s a full 10 points higher than her previous personal best, “Lover,” which came out only 11 months ago. That also places “Folklore” among the 10 highest rated albums of 2020 to date.

It’s a departure from her most recent pop-focused albums that were designed to provide more crowd-pleasing jams. Critics say her songwriting here is more “muted,” eschewing her autobiographical confessionals for songs that take on other stories and characters. It’s “her greatest album,” she’s a “consummate songstress,” and “her emotional acuity has never been more assured.” It will “endure” long after the COVID-19-afflicted months that inspired it.

Will it get her back to the Grammys? After winning her second Album of the Year prize for “1989,” her subsequent releases “Reputation” and “Lover” somewhat under-performed, only earning four nominations between them, with no wins. Perhaps the recording academy wanted to spread the wealth after her two historic Album of the Year prizes and 10 trophies overall by the time she was 26. But if “Folklore” truly is the best album of her career, might it be too big to fail? Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more here with your fellow music fans.

Maura Johnston (Entertainment Weekly): “Swift explodes the expectations of anyone preparing to call her music ‘diaristic,’ writing songs from different perspectives while putting her already-detailed work under a microscope … a content smile of an album on which one of the world’s biggest pop stars, charts be damned, forges her own path and dares listeners to come along for the ride.”

Laura Snapes (The Guardian): “Bombastic pop makes way for more muted songwriting, and a singular vision compared to the joyful but spread-betting ‘Lover’ … This strange summer of arrested development is steadily ending. ‘Folklore’ will endure long beyond it: as fragmented as Swift is across her eighth album – and much as you hope it doesn’t mark the end of her pop ambitions – her emotional acuity has never been more assured.”

Rob Sheffield (Rolling Stone): “She spent the quarantine season throwing herself into a new, secret project: her eighth album, ‘Folklore.’ But the real surprise is the music itself — the most head-spinning, heartbreaking, emotionally ambitious songs of her life … Some of us have spent years dreaming Taylor would do a whole album like this, but nobody really dreamed it would turn out this great. Her greatest album — so far.”

Bobby Olivier (Spin): “While the album tends to lull around its middle, ‘Folklore’ is far less concerned with its individual tracks than the greater, twisting conversation … She’s become a consummate songstress, even if she still feels underestimated, as she quips on ‘Cardigan’: ‘When you are young, they assume you know nothing.” She’s been proving otherwise since signing her first record deal at 15, half her life ago.'”

Be sure to make your Grammy predictions so that record executives and top name stars can see how their music is faring in our Grammy odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until nominees are announced. And join in the fierce debate over the 2021 Grammys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our music forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

More News from GoldDerby