Taylor Swift rang in her most recent album era with “Shake It Off,” a cheerfully flip pop confection that reads as an act of defiance to everyone from the haters to country-radio programmers. For “Out of the Woods,” the second offering from her upcoming LP 1989 (out Oct. 27), Swift’s rebellion takes a slyer shape, and a darker one.
Swift wrote the song with fun.’s Jack Antonoff, and the sounds of his ’80s-inspired solo project Bleachers reverberate here: a distorted vocal sample, crunchy drums, echoing harmonies. Lyrically, though, it’s still classic Swift, capturing the anxiety of a volatile romance with poignant little details — there are paper airplanes flying, and Swift and her would-be-beau have to move the furniture so they can dance; and, of course, there’s that much-discussed bridge about an accident that landed the unlucky couple in the hospital.
But it’s the furious chant of that anthemic chorus, all breathless urgency, and the left-of-center production that help Swift perform the niftiest sleight of hand: Even with lyrics that include some of her most headline-grabbing autobiographical admissions to date, the most interesting thing here isn’t who it’s about, but rather, how different it sounds.