Taylor Swift: fans and critics react to new surprise double album The Tortured Poets Department

<span>Taylor Swift fans take selfies at a pop-up for the singer’s new album The Tortured Poets Department in Los Angeles</span><span>Photograph: Richard Vogel/AP</span>
Taylor Swift fans take selfies at a pop-up for the singer’s new album The Tortured Poets Department in Los AngelesPhotograph: Richard Vogel/AP

The Tortured Poets Department is just out but it is already splitting Taylor Swift fans – between those who have already listened to it after it leaked online early, and those who refused to listen out of loyalty to their favourite singer.

Swift’s 11th studio album was released on Friday but all 16 tracks and lyrics began appearing on social media on Wednesday. Some fans – known as Swifties – refused to listen to the leaked album, insisting that “true fans” would wait for the official release, while others shared false links to the leak in attempts to stop people finding it.

“Raise your hand if you’re an ACTUAL Taylor Swift fan and aren’t listening,” wrote one social media user.

Related: Taylor Swift: The Tortured Poets Department review – fame, fans and former flames in the firing line

“People need to understand that this isn’t just about being a fan. It’s about respecting others of their hard work!” wrote another. “She and her team planned and worked so meticulously for this album release, don’t disrespect and ruin it for others as well.”

Swift’s previous album Midnights also leaked online before its drop date, which had seemingly little impact on her sales: the album sold 1.6m copies in its first week in the US alone. On Thursday Spotify announced that The Tortured Poets Department had broken its record for the most pre-saved album on its platform.

At 2am EST on Friday, Swift announced the surprise release of a second half of the album with 15 additional songs: “The Tortured Poets Department is a secret DOUBLE album,” she wrote. “I’d written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you, so here’s the second instalment of TTPD: The Anthology … And now the story isn’t mine anymore… it’s all yours.”

On Friday social media was filled with videos from listening parties around the world and screenshots of receipts after a reliably extensive range of Tortured Poet merchandise dropped online. A 10 second-long preview for a new music video was dissected frame by frame.

Like all Swift releases, The Tortured Poets Department has been highly anticipated, despite coming just 18 months after her last new release, 2022’s Midnights, and six months after the release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version). It features appearances from the US rapper Post Malone on the lead single Fortnight, and Florence Welch, of the English band Florence + the Machine. Physical copies of the album feature an original poem from Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks.

Critics were mostly positive on Friday: Variety called it “audacious” and “transfixing” and “the Taylor Swift-est Taylor Swift record ever”, while Rolling Stone deemed it “wildly ambitious and gloriously chaotic”. But the NME said the album contained “some of her most cringe-inducing lines yet” and “lacks the genuinely interesting shifts that have punctuated Swift’s career so far”.

Early reactions from fans were mostly positive, some praising the return of the synth sound she experimented with on Midnights. But, given Swift’s history of peppering songs with deeply personal reflections on failed relationships, some Swifties were not happy about the lack of allusions to her ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn in contrast to the many clear mentions of her next ex, the 1975 frontman Matt Healy, with one lyric in the titular track likening Healy to a “tattooed golden retriever” attracting some mockery.

“All that for an album about Matty Healy,” one fan wrote on her Instagram, a comment liked thousands of times.

Related: Breakups, fantasies and her most cutting lyrics: inside Taylor’s Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department

Lyrics on the new album also touch on her conflicted feelings about fame and her time performing on the ongoing Eras tour, which has broken records left and right to become the biggest tour staged to date. On the new track I Can Do It With a Broken Heart, she describes performing to millions and ends with: “I’m so miserable! And nobody even knows!”

On Friday Swift described the album as “an anthology of new works that reflect events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time – one that was both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure.

“This period of the author’s life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up,” she continued. “There is nothing to avenge, no scores to settle once wounds have healed. And upon further reflection, a good number of them turned out to be self-inflicted.”