Among all the names in the credits of Taylor Swift’s new album Lover, one stood out the most. While Jack Antonoff, Louis Bell, and Joel Little are all names you’d expect to see listed in the credits of a major label pop album in 2019, Annie Clark’s addition was certainly a head-turner.
Fresh off producing Sleater-Kinney’s new album (released just a week ago), Clark is listed as a co-writer on the Lover highlight “Cruel Summer.” The track shares the drama and stakes of past Swift hits including “Style” and “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” yet has its own energy, Swift and Clark a fantastic working pair. The track immediately asserts itself with its tight, vascular production and a vocoder echoing her words. But it’s not until the bridge that the song becomes truly transcendent, with Swift unleashing one of her best vocals to date. There’s a drop in the music as she yells, “He looks up grinning like a devil!,” in a moment of unbridled energy. Of all the moments on Lover – a definitive step up from reputation, a more ambitious project than 1989 – “Cruel Summer” is the most thrilling. It’s a hit waiting to happen. Let it happen.