Music review: Sticky choruses and upbeat numbers mark Taylor Swift's first complete pop album

Singer Taylor Swift performs on ABC's "Good Morning America" to promote her new album "1989" in New York, on Oct 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Taylor Swift performs on ABC's "Good Morning America" to promote her new album "1989" in New York, on Oct 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

1989

Taylor Swift

(Big Machine Records/ Universal Music Group)

3 stars

This is it. Five albums in, the transformation of T-Swift from country music ingenue to full-on pop starlet is finally complete.

1989 is not just the year she was born in, Swift has also been listening to and taking notes from music released at the tail-end of the 1980s.

Take away the synths, drum machine and massive sounds, and the melodies and structure are still the Swift of old, though. Sifting through the album, one can easily imagine her writing the tunes on a good ol' acoustic guitar or piano before handing it over to pop impresarios Max Martin (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, 'NSync) and Shellback (Usher, P!nk, One Direction) for their trademark high-gloss, non-organic sheen.

Except for a few tracks such as This Love, the closest the album gets to offering a ballad, most of the songs (including the tremolo-driven I Wish You Would and opener Welcome To New York) are upbeat numbers with rousing verses and sticky choruses.

Lead single Shake It Off is a jaunty and fun ditty, despite the little rap that makes her sound a little too much like Kesha for her own good. (But a word of advice: Don't watch the music video, if you haven't already done so - her awkward dancing will just mar your enjoyment of the tune.)

The 24-year-old is not taking any great leaps forward lyrics-wise.

Most of the tunes feature familiar themes of past loves, heartbreaks and realtionships that could have been great. In All You Had to Do Was Stay, she goes:

"Had me in the palm of your hand / Then, why'd you had to go and lock me out when I let you in / Stay, hey, now you say you want it / Back now that it's just too late."

The best lines would sure be on Blank Space, where she goes slightly meta and pokes fun at the obsession over her laundry list of celebrity exes:

"So it's gonna be forever / Or it's gonna go down in flames / You can tell me when it's over / If the high was worth the pain / Got a long list of ex-lovers / They'll tell you I'm insane / Cause you know I love the players /And you love the game."

Clearly, she loves this game too.