On the album, "The Last Time" comes after the fun and lovely song, "Stay Stay Stay". Swift opted to collaborate with several producers on the album. One of the resulted collaborations was "The Last Time", which was produced by Jacknife Lee, who is best known for working with Snow Patrol and U2.
Upon release, the song achieved heavy critical acclaim from music critics, who complimented the collaboration between Swift, Lightbody, and Lee. Critics have also praised the vocals and the serious tone of the song. Idolator gave the song a very positive review saying that it's "effective, and the not-gonna-call listlessness of “I Almost Do” breaks up the pop nicely."Billboard also gave the song a positive review in its Red track-by-track review, saying "A big fan of producer Jacknife Lee, Swift wanted to recreate the sounds of the songs he produced in recent years for U2 and Snow Patrol - right down to recruiting the latter's lead singer for a duet that recalls a more hushed version of Snow Patrol's "Set Fire To The Third Bar" before building to a dramatic, string-drenched coda."About.com also gave the song a rating of 3 out of 5 stars, calling it an "underwater piano plodding to symphonic chorus."Telegraph gave the song a very positive review, saying that it's "another duet, with Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody – Swift goes further than merely absorbing trendy sounds. A shivery, dark folk ballad led by a weathered vocal, it digs into a hidden side to her talent."