"Are we out of the woods yet?" Taylor Swift sings over and over in her new song's chorus. "Are we in the clear yet?"
"Out of the Woods" is available now on iTunes, and is getting stripped every time it appears on YouTube. Still, though, you can listen to it all over Tumblr, here for example.
Co-written by Jack Antonoff (who just released a whole album of similarly minded pop and synth would-be-hits under the name Bleachers), "Out of the Woods" is a desperate kind of lost love single from the "Shake It Off" star.
A lot of (virtual) ink today will be devoted to the song's "last December" love interest, purportedly One Direction's Harry Styles, and partly for a good reason. Swift has always done a spectacular job of weaving relationship specifics in with evergreen heartache, painting songs like an intimate moment with one's favorite pop star AND generic enough to become one's own personal, relatable anthem.
"Remember when you hit the brakes too soon / 20 stitches in a hospital room," she relays about a snowmobile ride with an ex-boyfriend who, as told to Rolling Stone, "wrecked it so badly that she saw her life flash before her eyes. Both of them had to go to the ER, although Swift wasn't hurt. She corrects herself: 'Not as hurt.'"
"Out of the Woods" mixes of nostalgic and sad synths, trading minor keys and transitional chords for a chugging climax fit for any struggling optimist. It riffs off the '80s strains that led the "Drive" soundtrack, and wide open verses for Swift to get wordy-wordy and conversational, things she's good at.
And it's yet another signifier, that her album "1989" will far and away be her most pop album yet, that the "country" feel that dotted her last album "Red" were part of an obligation she's now fulfilled. Antonoff's encouragement here, to wave her on to song structures still more different, really works. This song will be everywhere this season, a certifiable hit.
"1989" is due Oct. 27.