It’s easy to draw lines between Taylor Swift’s massive new song “Out Of The Woods” and the music of Bleachers, the moving alt-pop side project of fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, who happened to co-write and produce Swift’s new offering. Those comparisons are apt, although the song more clearly recalls “How Come You Don’t Want Me,” a 2013 Tegan and Sara track that Antonoff co-penned with the twin sisters. A chattering, confused piece of pristine synth-pop, “How Come You Don’t Want Me” was a highlight of Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara’s calculated move toward mainstream pop that dazzled with self-assured songwriting and warm production. Swift is making a similar transition on 1989, her forthcoming fifth album, and based on its first two released songs, the country superstar is striding into pop with the same degree of effortlessness.
The vast chorus of “Out Of The Woods” combusts like the closing sequence of an 80’s action movie, a muscular chant that finds Swift bursting with confidence while spitting out the questions, “Are we out of the woods yet? Are we in the clear yet?” The kaleidoscopic synthesizers and stacked drums once again demonstrate just how far Swift has strayed from her acoustic roots, but her lyrical details are as evocative as ever, as she spins a story of tenuous romance that includes images of a car crash, a forgotten Polaroid and a decision “to move the furniture, so we could dance.” Producers like Antonoff may be guiding Swift into bold new places sonically, but she remains a writer capable of presenting striking, instantly unforgettable images.