Taylor Swift has done it once again.
Anticipation over the singer’s 10th album release has only built since its announcement at the 2022 VMA Awards. Part of that anticipation is largely due to the lack of a single being released prior to the album drop date. Audiences were unsure what to expect from Swift, especially since her prior two albums, “Folklore” and “Evermore,” strayed from the typical sound associated with the artist.
Because of this, the initial listen to “Midnights” was rather jarring. However, by the second and third time, I was in no small way reminded that Swift is both a pop artist and lyricist, first and foremost. This album delivered both in spades, reminding the world that while she might have taken a break from the pop charts, she is as on top of her game as ever.
In a message from Swift to fans, she described the album as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout [her] life.” Frankly, there is no better way to describe it. Swift is widely popular for creating albums representative of a period of time in her life, each one
containing a consistent vibe, creating what fans have dubbed as “eras” for each album. What makes “Midnights” so incredible is that it manages to take each of her albums, throw them together and still preserve a cohesive sound throughout the album.
The album features no shortage of lively, brazen songs that are purely modern in their production. Songs like “Karma” and “Vigilante Sh*t” fit right in with the “Reputation” era, their slow tempos with deep bass chords bringing attention right back to Swift’s long standing drama with rap artist Kanye West and his now ex-wife Kim Kardashian, as well as former manager Scooter Braun.
In addition to the vigorous “Reputation”-esque tracks, Taylor reveals some insight into her relationship with longtime partner Joe Alywn in a way fans have not seen since “Lover.” In “Lavender Haze” Swift comments on how Alwyn handles the lifestyle that comes with dating one of the most popular women in the world. “Sweet Nothing” is the only track on the album written solely by Swift and her partner, and it is the quintessential love song of the album.
One standout difference in this album is the quiet introspection combated by a busy production that it offers, so different from the vulnerability of “Folklore.” In a message released on Swift’s social media platforms about track three, “Anti-Hero,” the singer says, “I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before.” Not only can it be found in “Anti-Hero,” with powerful lines such as “I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror,” but in many other tracks as well. In her fifth track, Swift shares the message, “You’re on your own kid, you always have been.” “Midnight Rain” features heavy synth influences, which pairs perfectly with the message of wanting pain and passion over comfort. In one of my personal favorites, “Labyrinth,” Swift discusses being “lost in the labyrinth of my mind” and shares the message “Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out.”
Personally, I found that the contemplative tracks had a more profound effect, but that in no way takes away from the musical mastery that makes up some of the lighter songs of the album. However, regardless of personal favorites, this album is a triumph, a sign to the music world that Swift is fully capable of embracing her titles of “singer-songwriter” and “pop star” at the same time without sacrificing either.
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